Bill Description: House Bill 300 clarifies the position that Idaho law enforcement is not responsible for enforcing unconstitutional federal gun laws, and it requires the state attorney general to challenge the enforcement of such laws.
Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules? Examples include citing federal code without noting as it is written on a certain date, using state resources to enforce federal law, and refusing to support and uphold the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism?
House Bill 300 creates Section 18-3315C, Idaho Code, the "Idaho Small Arms Protection Act." The bill establishes legislative authority and intent and proceeds to make a constitutional argument for state sovereignty in matters related to firearms regulation.
The bill says, "Specifically, the state of Idaho reserves to itself the power to protect the fundamental individual rights of its citizens and residents to any degree greater than is protected by the United States constitution and its amendments and to do so in such a manner that this state and its citizens believe is necessary and proper to secure their safety and happiness."
The bill goes on to say, "Any federal law, regulation, tax, license, permit, fee, or assessment that would impose an undue burden on exercising this fundamental right is deemed to violate the constitution of the state of Idaho."
While these are noble sentiments, the real value of the bill is in what it does to reduce the chance of unconstitutional federal gun laws being enforced in Idaho.
The bill says, "No official, agent, or employee of the state of Idaho, or a political subdivision thereof, shall be required to assist with any federal action on or after the effective date of this section if such federal action is contrary to the provisions of Idaho Code or section 11, article I, of the constitution of the state of Idaho."
It also provides immunity for those who refuse to assist with such enforcement saying, "Any such official agent or employee of the state, or its political subdivisions, shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, for failure to assist with any such enforcement."
Preventing local law enforcement offices from being used to enforce unconstitutional federal gun laws helps to protect the rights of Idahoans.
In addition to the above provisions, House Bill 311 requires the Idaho attorney general to "challenge the enforcement of any federal action if contrary to any provisions of section 11, article I, of the constitution of the state of Idaho and any laws enacted under that section."
Such a challenge may be "brought in any court within the state of Idaho for any federal action taken against any resident of the state of Idaho, including but not limited to a challenge to any federal law, regulation, tax, levy, fee, or stamp imposed on the items protected under this section."
Enacting a policy that the state shall intercede on behalf of Idahoans whose rights have been violated also helps to protect and preserve the rights of Idahoans.
Finally, the bill deals with the possibility that "the attorney general declines to defend this section or defends this section on grounds that are inconsistent with its stated purpose." In such a case, the Legislature may, by concurrent resolution, "appoint one (1) or more of its members who sponsored or cosponsored this section in his official capacity or, if a member who sponsored or cosponsored this section is no longer serving in the legislature, a current member to intervene as a matter of right in any case in which the constitutionality of this section is challenged in state or federal court."
Additionally, the bill allows for the "appointment of outside legal counsel to defend this section" "at the sole discretion of the member appointed by the concurrent resolution."
This innovative section not only helps to secure the rights of Idahoans; it may also serve as a template for future issues where the intent of the Legislature is not adequately defended by the Office of the Attorney General.
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