Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, introduced legislation in the House Environmental Committee Wednesday that would repeal 10 pieces of legislation that he says allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to dictate laws in Idaho. The bill didn’t get out of committee, failing on a 9-5 vote. Harwood is vice chairman of the committee.
Harwood’s plan was to have it sent to print but not go any further, thus putting it up on the Legislature’s website in hopes that other states could access it and begin a process of coming together to fight the EPA.
Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, proposed a motion to send the bill to print, citing the 10th Amendment and the commerce clause within it. This led to some harsh words from Rep. Eric Anderson,R-Priest Lake. Anderson felt that the bill was flawed and that it would reflect badly on the legislative body and him personally. He asked that the committee chairman, Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, be careful of the precedent and image to the committee if such legislation is approved.
Said Anderson, “We’re putting our name on something that is admittedly a wrong piece of legislation … This is a precedent, Mr. Chairman, that I think is so full of flaws. This particular piece of legislation … it gives us a conversation piece, but it sets a precedent here that we, I have never been involved with in my life. Any other committee we would be dissecting this, we would be taking this and saying ‘well you know on page 2, line 35 this is impossible to do.’ At the very least this would go to the amending order.”
Anderson believes that to just send a bill to print to bring up discussion is not the right way to do things especially, in his eyes, if the legislation is flawed. “My thoughts, to the sponsor, would be if you want something to go on the Internet let’s make sure that it is much more defined than this. This is nullification junior if all we’re doing is having a statement here that we’re unhappy with federal law. No one is happy with certain elements of federal law and federal dominion,” said Anderson. “I understand that, I get that. I don’t think anybody on this committee doesn’t have some frustration with that.”
The representative found it personally offensive to link his name to this kind of legislation. “I am not going to do a shotgun blast with my name on it out to the Internet that I agreed with this piece of legislation. I won’t do it. To me, this defines who I am, and who I am, by the maker of the motion, is somebody that doesn’t believe in the 10th Amendment, by somebody’s opinion, then so be it. I personally do believe in the 10th Amendment. But, I believe there’s a way to get there. I believe it needs to be judicial, it needs to be properly done. Because all we are doing is yelling in the wind and I don’t care if 12 other states can start to have a discourse or whatever.”
Anderson continued, “I can’t put my name on this. This defines me and I disagree with so much of how this is presented. This is a rejection of federal law. I can’t go there. I will not support the motion to print the way this is today, and I think it does set a precedent, Mr. Chairman, that we’re just going to print whatever just to get some dialogue going.”
Harwood believes that since the EPA was formed under an executive order by President Richard Nixon, it should only apply to federal lands, not the state ofIdaho. Instead, Harwood believes that Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality should be in charge of setting and maintaining environmental regulations within the state, including regulations dealing with the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act—both federal regulations.
Harwood also echoed comments he made to IdahoReporter.com in 2011, when he said that we (the state and its citizens) need to get back to following the Constitution and that this bill would be a step in the right direction, at least to get the conversation started.
A substitute motion was made to send the bill back to its sponsor, which Anderson supported. Once it passed, Anderson had more to say about the committee and the proceedings thus far this session. “I just would like to make this point to you, Mr. Chairman, that historically this has been my favorite committee and I have seen a lot of good things happen on this committee. This year has been a bit peculiar to me. I am not going to attend this committee and have a civics lesson every time I come here about my misunderstanding of the 10th Amendment and somebody else’s more appropriate understanding. I think it’s out of order …”