The 2017 Legislative Session kicks off on Monday, January 9th. We welcome lawmakers, both old and new, and look forward to the opportunity to work with our elected officials to preserve and defend a lively state of civil rights in Idaho.
As the 2017 session kicks off, we aim to focus our work on the following issues areas:
Treating individuals with severe mental illness equal under the law. The ACLU recommends that those individuals diagnosed with a severe mental illness be made exempt from receiving the death penalty. Idaho currently bars the execution of juveniles and individuals with intellectual disabilities due to their diminished capacity to understand criminal wrong doing. Individuals with severe mental illness are also unable to appreciate the nature, consequences, or wrongfulness of their conduct and therefore are unfit to receive the State’s highest punishment. Learn more about our severe mental illness campaign here.
Stopping unconstitutional school voucher programs. Article IX, Section V of the Idaho Constitution protects taxpayer dollars from benefitting religious institutions, including private religious schools. While the creation of a state voucher system may be a boon to private schools, it will cause untold harm to public schools and students, and it will completely disregard key religious-liberty principles safeguarded by the Constitution’s framers. We ask lawmakers to stop vouchers in their track and ensure that no Idaho taxpayer be compelled to support religion and that public funds not be used for religious purposes. Learn more about our work on school vouchers here.
Ending Policing for Profit: Civil asset forfeiture allows police to seize and keep property of citizens who haven’t even been charged with a crime, and then pocket the profits of the then-seized property. Lawmakers should take the appropriate steps to ensure that no individual innocent of a criminal charge loses their property while also increasing the constitutional due process rights of property owners. Learn more about our on civil asset forfeiture reform here.
Fighting Mass Incarceration: Since the 2014 legislative session, the Idaho Legislature has begun taking appropriate steps in addressing its addiction to incarceration. However, Idaho’s high incarceration rates and minimal resources to continually prevent recidivism must be addressed. The ACLU of Idaho will continue to monitor the Legislature’s efforts and will actively support legislation that address Idaho’s mandatory sentencing laws, improves the efficiency of probation and parole, and allows for formerly incarcerated individuals to return to their communities, earn a living and provide for their families. Learn more about our Smart Justice campaign here.
Defending Idahoans from hate and intolerance. The principle of religious freedom enshrined by the Founders in our Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of our nation’s values. Yet recent history has seen the rise of hateful rhetoric targeting Muslim Americans and immigrants based on their faith. This is dangerous and un-American. We will oppose any legislative attempt to discriminate against Idahoans of varying faiths, will fight to stop anti-immigrant sentiment in the legislature, and will work to ensure all Idahoans are free to practice their religious beliefs without fear of hate or intolerance. Learn more about our work fighting anti-Muslim discrimination here.
Amending the Idaho Human Rights Act: The ACLU of Idaho stands in full support of updating Idaho’s non-discrimination law to prevent discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Lawmakers must ensure that all Idahoans are free from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, while also rejecting the use of religion as a tool to continue discrimination against gay and transgender Idahoans. Learn more about our LGBT work here.
Protecting Reproductive Healthcare: The ACLU of Idaho has consistently advocated for policies that support women’s decision making, advance women’s health and well-being, and ensure strong, healthy families. We will oppose any legislation that attempts to curtails a woman’s constitutionally protected right to govern her body and medical decisions as her own, free from government intervention, whether that be to shut down women’s health centers, cut off access to affordable birth control, or shame women who have abortions. Learn more about our work advancing women’s reproductive healthcare here.
BECOME A LEGISLATIVE VOLUNTEER
With one full-time lobbyist and one full-time legislative organizer, we count on our dedicated volunteers to support our legislative advocacy work across the state. With the help of a robust volunteer base, we can grow the impact of the ACLU’s legislative work, ensuring that Idaho’s elected officials are held accountable to the will of voters, the Idaho Constitution, and the U.S. Constitution.
Volunteers with the legislative department will assist our office in accomplishing our legislative outreach goals including: membership engagement, legislator education, and citizen lobbying. Volunteers will work directly with the Policy Director and Programs Organizer, as well as additional ACLU staff as directed.
If you’re interested in volunteering with our legislative work, fill out our volunteer questionnaire here. If you have any questions about volunteering with the ACLU’s legislative department, please contact Anthony Lee, Programs Organizer, at alee(at)acluidaho.org.