The Idaho House of Representatives has chosen to not vote on legislation that was unanimously approved by a legislative committee just last week. House Bill 367, which would significantly broaden the role of the Idaho National Guard to include domestic policing powers, passed on a voice vote in the House Transportation and Defense Committee on Jan. 23.
With the House scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday, Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, noted from the floor that some House members had identified “problems” with the legislation. “Mr. Speaker,” Moyle stated, “I request unanimous consent that House Bill 367 be returned to the committee for amending.” Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, granted that the bill be returned.
When reached for comment after the House floor session, Moyle told IdahoReporter.com that “I didn’t like the military police power component of the bill. I didn’t like that at all.” When asked about prospective amendments to House BIll 367, or a new bill to replace it, Moyle stated “I understand what was being attempted here, I get the fiscal angle on this. But I do not know at this point if there will be a new bill to replace it.”
Inside the details of the domestic military powers expansion legislation is a provision to formalize what is known as the Idaho National Guard’s “Counter Drug Support Program,” by declaring that it may “assist federal and state law enforcement agencies in interdicting the importation of controlled substances into this state.”
Additionally, the bill declares that the military unit will be “deemed a state law enforcement agency for the purpose of participating in the sharing of property seized or forfeited and receive property and revenues.”
Enabling the Idaho National Guard to share in the seizure of property seemed to be a driving force of support with the bill’s passage in committee. Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, chair of the committee, told
IdahoReporter.com last week that the new legislation would be financially beneficial to the Idaho National Guard’s budget, and added that Gov. Butch Otter approves of it.
Additionally, Reps. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, and Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, both of whom are members of the committee, voiced their support for the bill as well.
“There are certain parameters set with this bill that make sense for the National Guard’s collaboration with law enforcement,” Hixon told IdahoReporter.com. Similarly Bateman stated that “there seemed to be no major opposition to this bill. It seems like a good idea to me and I supported it.”
After last week’s passage of the bill in committee, Monica Hopkins of the Idaho chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union noted that “I think there should be growing concern among citizens at the militarization of our police forces. We have seen communities where federal dollars are going toward the use of tanks and other military weaponry. American citizens should be concerned at the growing militarization of local government power.”
Likewise Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation added that “every Idahoan should be alarmed by the continued use of the military for law enforcement purposes. That is not what the military is for,
that is not what the National Guard is for. Yet we’re continuing to see our military deployed for law enforcement purposes or military equipment used for everyday law enforcement purposes. It is a very frightening trend.”
Note: IdahoReporter.com is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.