Week 9 legislative roundup, now with more actions!

We’re entering week ten of the Idaho Legislature, the home stretch, but there’s still work to be done.  The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee has finished up agency budgets meaning the bulk of their work is complete.  However, the grocery tax bill is yet to be introduced and it appears District Nine’s oil and gas reform bill has been pulled for technical corrections and substantive revisions.  It remains to be seen if either of these proposals will have a hearing this year.  That’s where YOU come in!

Food Tracker 4000. 

With as few as two weeks left in the session, IORC is working hard to get the grocery tax exemption legislation passed. A bill has been drafted and has the support of 48 legislators.  IORC participated in a press conference on March 2nd to draw attention to the bill, and call on leadership to give the bill a public hearing.  To this point, they havn’t allowed it to be heard in committee.

Our Food Tracker 400 is tracking a typhoon of phone calls and emails to House leadership.  We are building a grassroots effort to make sure that our leaders hear our voices.  To take action right now, call the Speaker of the House, Representative Scott Bedke (208-332-1123) or email sbedke@house.idaho.gov and the Chairman of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, Representative Gary Collins (208-332-1063) or by email gcollins@house.idaho.gov and ask them to give the grocery tax exemption bill a hearing.

Sounds easy enough, right?  It is, but there’s one more way you can help.  Support our campaign to make sure all Idahoans can afford healthy local food by joining IORC as a member.

Bills, Bills, Bills!

So far this session, eight bills relating to oil and gas have been introduced and with the possibility of one more in the coming days.

Most recently, District Nine legislators introduced HB 232.  Currently, it appears to have been pulled from consideration to make some revisions but many of the key elements appear to be intact.  This legislation is broad in scope, but here are some of the key pieces of the bill:

  • Proposes changing the makeup of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to include the governor, the director of the Idaho Department of Lands, a county commissioner from a producing county, and two petroleum geology or engineering experts.
  • Expands authority of the commission and department to include surface and royalty owner interests.
  • Institutes statewide setback requirements of only 300 feet.
  • Increases the leasing requirement to 67% for forced pooling applications.
  • Mandates regular reporting and public disclosure of records and metering and calibration requirements.
  • Increases the share of severance taxes to 44% that go to the county where the drilling occurred to mitigate impacts associated with oil and gas production.
  • Adds a new section to require surface owner protections and mitigation.

These are some very positive steps in the right direction, but there is also some cause for concern.  Removal of landowner representation on the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is worrisome and, in particular, the 300-foot setback distance is inadequate to protect Idaho’s people living with oil and gas.

In the end, we believe this proposal is worthy of our support because it increases transparency, accountability, and protections for landowners.  Please write your legislator and ask them to support District Nine’s oil and gas legislation.

You can also help by supporting our campaign to protect Idaho from oil and gas development by joining IORC as a member.

We’re Two Votes Closer to Stopping Oil and Gas Pollution on Public and Tribal Lands!

Grassroots pressure from organizations across the county has stalled a vote on a U.S. Senate resolution to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Prevention Rule.  Check out the recent op-eds from IORC members Tim Norton and Mary Sue Roach.

Politico reports that Senate Republicans “are struggling to line up votes.” Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have announced their opposition to the resolution.

Last month, the Western Organization of Resource Councils sent four leaders — Ruth Buffalo, Dakota Resource Council; our own Brent Mathieu, Idaho Organization of Resource Councils; Edward Barta, Northern Plains Resource Council; and Karen Sjoberg, Western Colorado Congress — to Washington, D.C., to round up Senate support for the protections.

We still need your help to pressure our senators to stand up to these wasteful practices.  If you haven’t contacted your senators yet, you can still send them a message through WORC’s Action Page or you can support the campaign by joining IORC as a member.  We need your support!