It’s been a busy time for Gov. Butch Otter since the 2012 legislative session concluded going through legislation deciding whether to sign it into law.
Since the session ended, Otter has signed 62 bills into law. Jon Hanian, Otter’s press secretary, said the governor has received 342 pieces of legislation. Here’s a brief look at some of the bills he has signed that garnered attention during the session.
Senate Bill 1274, texting while driving
This bill officially makes texting while driving in Idaho illegal, fining anyone found guilty of it $85. Proponents of the legislation say it’s a good law because it clearly defines what texting is, and provides a clear penalty for it as well. Opponents of the bill argued that Idaho’s inattentive driving law already covered texting, the law is not enforceable and that there were many loopholes in the legislation including no specific provision dealing with other driving distractions such as checking social media websites.
House Bill 693, “Occupy Boise” bill No. 2
Although the bill doesn’t address Occupy Boise specifically, the group’s encampment is the reason for the legislation. Early in the session, House Bill 404 was passed, which made it illegal to camp on Capitol Mall grounds. The idea was to force the protestors to leave. A judge ruled that protestors could not stay overnight, but could leave their tents on mall grounds. House Bill 693 gives governing power of the mall grounds to the Department of Administration, allowing the department to do the rule making and decide what parameters should be used for allowing any group to protest on the grounds and for how long.
House Bill 426, education 8 in 6 program
The program, dubbed “8 in 6” by its sponsor, Rep. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, would allow students, starting in their seventh-grade year, to take extra online or summer courses to get ahead in school work. The state would partially fund the courses as long as the students perform well. If students fail or do not complete the work, they would be forced to pay for and pass one extra class to re-enter the program. Students completing their regular and extra workloads would earn their high school diploma just prior to the start of what is traditionally thought of as the beginning of a student’s junior year. After receiving that, students would then be required to enroll in dual enrollment courses, or college classes offered in Idaho high schools.
Other bills the governor has signed recently include the Youth Challenge alternative school bill, concussion protection and making animal cruelty a felony on the third conviction.
The Youth Challenge bill funds an alternative National Guard Youth Challenge school in Pierce. The concussion bill aims to protect youth by preventing them from returning to athletic play after hard hits unless they have been cleared by a medical professional who has training in evaluating head injuries. The animal cruelty bill makes a third offense within three years a felony. The bill also makes organized cockfighting, where there is gambling, a felony.
For a complete list of every bill the governor has signed to date, click here.