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Legislative roundup: Here are some of the bills being debated in Boise

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BOISE — So far this session, legislation to limit the emergency powers of Gov. Brad Little has taken the spotlight, but lawmakers are considering other bills.
Among other proposed legislation are bills aimed to raise the minimum wage in Idaho, add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act, and makes changes to the Idaho State Police crime lab policies. The following are four bills and other items of legislation in the House and Senate.
Increasing minimum wage
A handful of Democrat senators and representatives hope to have the minimum wage in Idaho at $15 an hour by 2023. Senate Bill 1028 significantly changes Idaho’s statute on the minimum wage. Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, introduced the bill to the State Affairs Committee.
If the bill passes the way it’s currently written, Idaho’s minimum wage would be raised from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour on July 1, 2021. A year later, the wage would be set at $12.50 and $15 on July 1, 2023. The bill would also similarly raise minimum wage for workers who receive tips to $5 in 2021, $6.25 in 2022 and $7.50 in 2023.
The bill to change the minimum wage is in its early stages, with a hearing in the State Affairs Committee needed before the bill would reach the Senate floor.
Changes to Idaho State Police forensic labs
The Idaho State Police have asked for legislation to be passed to allow the state’s law enforcement lab to perform testing for coroners who don’t have the resources to pay private labs to conduct tests. Specifically, the legislation deals with toxicology tests conducted in death investigations.
The new law would also allow the forensic labs to share the results with the Department of Health and Welfare for statistical and monitoring purposes.
In a statement of purpose, ISP says the testing is currently funded by a Center For Disease Control grant. ISP has two temporary employees to conduct validation studies and support the casework. If the testing volume were to increase, the lab might need one full-time toxicologist and $20,000 to $30,000 in operating expenses for supplies.
ISP says the federal grand supports the lab for two more years.
The bill is in the early stages and needs to be heard before the House Judiciary Rules and Administration Committee.
Add the words
For years lawmakers’ attempts to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act have failed. For the 15th time, supporters this year hope that by adding the words to Idaho law, discrimination of the LGBTQ community in Idaho would become illegal.
The bill has yet to have a hearing and only introduced to the Senate State Affairs Committee. In the past, opponents to the bill have been concerned over the possibilities of infringement of religious liberties, the Idaho Statesman reported in 2020.
The supporters of the bill are all Democrats.
Medical debt
Last year Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, introduced and helped pass the Idaho Patient Act, which limits on medical debt collection in Idaho. This year, Monks introduced a new section to the act that would provide time extensions for extraordinary collection actions on medical debts for all goods and services provided to a patient before July 1, 2021. The bill still sits in the House Business Committee.
When it passed in 2020, the Idaho Patient Act required providers to submit a bill to a patient’s insurance company or to the patient within 45 days of providing a service. Within 60 days of service, patients receive a single list of everyone who will bill them. Medical providers cannot sue a patient or turn a bill over to collections until 90 days after the patient receives a final statement. The Idaho Patient Act also limited attorneys’ fees on medical debt.
RELATED | Gov. Little signs Idaho Patient Act into law
RELATED | EastIdahoNews.com series on medical debt in Idaho (before Idaho Patient Act went into effect)
The Idaho Legislature website has published 53 bills in the House and seven different types of House Resolutions. In the Senate, 42 bills are published along with two different Senate Resolutions.
You can read the latest legislature and political news here.
The post Legislative roundup: Here are some of the bills being debated in Boise appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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