Bill Description: House Bill 672 would decrease some violations of fish and game rules from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Analyst Note: House Bill 672 is similar to House Bill 586, introduced earlier this session.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Idaho law contains a problematic provision stating that violations of fish and game commission rules, proclamations, or orders are misdemeanors unless they are expressly listed in statute as infractions or felonies. In no case should violating a rule (which is an administrative operating procedure, not a statute) ever constitute a criminal act, but alas, this unjust standard exists in Idaho.
Unfortunately, House Bill 672 does not repeal this unreasonable statute, but it does amend Section 36-1401, Idaho Code, to include a handful of victimless acts in the list of infractions, which reduces them from misdemeanors. Among these items are having a dog off-leash, using "any form of fireworks," and placing "beehives or bee boards."
The bill also says that the director of the commission "shall update the house resources and conservation committee and the senate resources and environment committee during each legislative session concerning new rules and proclamations containing penalties."
It is a net positive to reclassify victimless acts as infractions rather than misdemeanors. But victimless acts should not be prohibited at all, and administrative rules should guide the behavior of government employees, not impose demands or mandates on the public.