Among many other civil liberty issues, our legislative work includes criminal legal reform, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ equality, immigrant rights, disability rights, privacy, religious freedom, and free speech.
2024 Legislative Session
SB 1234 aims to address issues and barriers related to accessing contraception in Idaho. The bill proposes extending contraception prescriptions to six months.
The ACLU and ACLU of Idaho work tirelessly to ensure that everyone can make the best choices for themselves and their families without undue political interference. Every sexually active individual should have safe and affordable access to contraception. Access to contraception is integral to the full exercise of civil rights and liberties, because it is foundational to autonomy, reproductive freedom, and equality.
The ACLU of Idaho SUPPORTS SB 1234
Formerly HB 381, House Bill 400 would replace the word "fetus" with "preborn child" in Idaho code.
The ACLU of Idaho opposes HB 400 for two primary reasons: Firstly, the bill introduces inconsistencies in Idaho Code by replacing the term "fetus" with "preborn child" in various statutes without doing the same for the term "embryo," resulting in regulatory confusion for entities at the same developmental stage. Secondly, the replacement of the clear and scientifically recognized term "fetus" with the vague "preborn child" violates the requirement to use plain language in legislation. Abandoning science -- in favor of laws based on moral and religious grounds -- is reckless lawmaking.
The ACLU of Idaho strongly OPPOSES HB 400
HB 381 - Fetal Personhood UPDATE: (This legislation was replaced by HB 400)
HB 381 intends to replace the word "fetus" with "preborn child" in Idaho code. If passed, this vague legislation could place Idaho's health care providers and pregnant people at risk of arbitrary prosecution. The bill could have life-altering consequences: It may force Idahoans to carry out a pregnancy against their will or force providers to deny essential health care.
In 2022, a federal district court in Arizona blocked a similar law. We know full civil rights and freedoms rest on bodily autonomy. We also know abandoning science -- in favor of laws based on moral and religious grounds -- is reckless lawmaking.
The ACLU of Idaho strongly OPPOSES HB 381
HB 419 proposes several changes to Medicaid eligibility. It introduces a cap on Medicaid expansion participants at 50,000 people and a 36-month lifetime limit for the program and denies Medicaid coverage for certain gender-related medical procedures for individuals over 18 years old.
The ACLU of Idaho opposes HB 419 because it could unfairly impact people seeking Medicaid assistance for gender-related medical care. This bill might violate the U.S. Constitution's rule about treating everyone equally. It singles out certain medical procedures, like those related to gender identity, and states that Medicaid won't cover those procedures for some people. The bill's proposed enrollment cap and lifetime benefit limit are criticized for jeopardizing Medicaid access for vulnerable populations (including those with disabilities) and are viewed as unapprovable changes to the State Plan, risking federal Medicaid funding for all Idahoans.
We believe that everyone--transgender, intersex, and nonbinary individuals included--have the right to receive appropriate medical care, including Medicaid-funded gender-affirming care.
The ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES HB 419
HB 384 would allow the Idaho state legislature to ban certain content from public schools and libraries. It would also allow library patrons to bring lawsuits against libraries for having so-called obscene materials on hand. HB 384 includes harmful language that mischaracterizes homosexuality as inherently sexual, and thus further marginalizes LGBTQIA+ Idahoans. For decades, US courts and policy have made clear that the government has no business banning books simply because it disagrees with certain content. HB 384, like other recent library censorship bills, is part of a coordinated attack on the rights of students and every Idahoan to read and learn without government interference. We know HB 384, like other censorship bills, is aimed at banning LGBTQIA+ supportive content -- NOT protecting the public.
ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES HB 384
ACLU national and ACLU of Idaho affirm that individuals who identify as transgender, intersex, and non-binary have an inherent right to exist and belong.
HB 421 rewrites the legal definitions of male, female, mother, father, sex, and gender and changes all existing Idaho statutes, rules and policies that reference the words to the new definitions. HB 421 provides highly restrictive definitions for the terms "sex" and "gender" in Idaho code, equating them solely with an elementary definition of "biological sex." By changing these definitions, Idaho statute will erase gender identity, an internal sense of gender, experienced gender, gender expression, and gender role. This narrow definition conflicts with binding interpretations of federal protections under the U.S. Constitution, Title IX, and Title VII.
Additionally, the bill mandates the inclusion of every individuals’ “sex at birth” on birth certificates, which further muddles accurate documentation for trans and non-binary people.
It applies these restrictive definitions across all laws, rules and policies of the state of Idaho.
This bill wants to legally redefine "sex" in a way that intends to erase transgender, nonbinary, intersex, and other gender non-conforming people from Idaho code.
ACLU of Idaho strongly STRONGLY OPPOSES HB 421
The ACLU of Idaho strongly opposes House Bill 405, which proposes adding "lewd conduct" with a child under the age of 12 as a crime punishable by death.
This bill would leave current sentencing guidelines for lewd conduct with children between 12 and 16 years old unchanged, punishable by up to life in prison. HB 405 would significantly expand death penalty cases in the state and there are constitutional violations, especially regarding the Eighth Amendment's protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Additionally, have concerns about flaws in the legal system, logistical challenges of death sentencing, and increased costs associated with capital punishment.
The ACLU has a longstanding opposition to capital punishment, emphasizing its inherent risk of extreme pain and torture. Modern execution methods, such as lethal injection, have proven to be inhumane, and the ACLU argues that no method of killing aligns with constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
The ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES HB 405
Despite repeated calls to eliminate mandatory minimums and address the need to adjust overly harsh and retributive punishments related to drug offenses, HB 406, adds new mandatory sentences related to fentanyl possession and it would create a new felony called "drug-induced homicide" for any person that supplied a drug that caused a fatal overdose. While we acknowledge the profound impact of fentanyl on Idaho families, HB 406's singular focus on incarceration with escalating sentences erases the important roles of prosecutors and judges and places more power in the hands of arresting officers.
HB 406 is not cost-effective, has the potential to increase incarceration costs, and does not deter drug use. We are also deeply concerned about the disproportionate impact on Idaho's Black and Brown communities. The ACLU of Idaho urges the rejection of HB 406, as it does not offer a viable solution for the state's drug control objectives.
ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES HB 406
The ACLU of Idaho has always opposed blanket sentencing, which likely leads to an increase of people in our jails and prisons.
HB 387 intends to increase jail time (up to one year from six months) for first-time domestic violence offenders. This legislation is too blunt of an instrument for the complex, intractable issues associated with domestic violence. We know increased penalties will only lead to increased incarceration – and we know the carceral system disproportionately harms people of color. The law may also end up hurting domestic violence victims, especially those who are not treated fairly because of their skin color.
Lastly, increasing the punishment for first-time offenders can cause more issues in the long run. Studies show that putting more people in jail for domestic violence likely increases recidivism, meaning HB 387 could end up causing more problems than it solves.
Survivors of domestic violence deserve better solutions, ones that really work and treat everyone fairly.
ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES HB 406
ACLU national and ACLU of Idaho strongly oppose House Bill 390 due to concerns about the extension of the state attorney general's authority to include investigations and actions against elected city officials.
Currently, the attorney general's role is to uphold state law, ensuring political neutrality and separation between state and local governments. HB 390 would broaden the attorney general's jurisdiction over local matters, potentially enabling politically motivated investigations against locally elected officials. The bill's expansion of investigative authority and criteria for investigation raises fears of eroding local autonomy, inviting politically driven allegations, investigations, and prosecutions.
The bill exceeds any apparent need and risks potential abuse of the attorney general's authority.
ACLU of Idaho STRONGLY OPPOSESHB 390
The ACLU of Idaho is dedicated to safeguarding freedom of speech for all individuals. As such, we diligently assess any proposed bill that pertains to the regulation of speech.
House Bill 382 is based on the federal PROTECT Act, which prohibits the distribution or possession of "morphed" Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), where a real child's features are superimposed onto explicit conduct. While we generally support this legislation, we suggested amendments to enhance First Amendment protections. These include refining the definition of "sexually exploitative material" to match federal standards, emphasizing the need for an "identifiable" child in each alternative definition, and addressing potential confusion around the term "identifiable minor." These modifications aim to achieve the bill's goal while ensuring the careful protection of free speech rights.
ACLU of Idaho takes no position on this bill, but we have included recommendations in our testimony.
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is increasingly shaping our lives across various domains, both public and private. The Idaho legislature is currently addressing this matter through proposed legislation. However, it is crucial for lawmakers to recognize and address the substantial impact these initiatives may have on civil rights and liberties. However, it is crucial for lawmakers to recognize and address the substantial impact these initiatives may have on civil rights and liberties.
HB 391 addresses the issue of explicit synthetic media, commonly known as deepfakes. The bill criminalizes the disclosure of such media with the intent to annoy, terrify, threaten, intimidate, harass, offend, humiliate, or degrade someone. It also criminalizes the possession and threat of disclosure with the intent to obtain money or other valuable consideration from an identifiable person portrayed in the media. Violation of these provisions constitutes a misdemeanor, with the possibility of felony charges for repeat offenses within five years.
We strongly oppose HB 391 due to its failure to adequately protect First Amendment freedoms and its potential impact on constitutionally protected speech. The bill lacks an affirmative defense of consent, making it problematic for individuals who willingly participate in the creation and distribution of explicit synthetic media. Furthermore, the broad intent clause of HB 391 implicates a wide range of speech, including parody and other forms of protected expression, potentially chilling protected free speech. The ACLU of Idaho advocates for a more narrowly crafted approach that safeguards individual privacy without unnecessarily infringing on free speech rights.
ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES HB 391
The ACLU and ACLU of Idaho have consistently opposed the codification of a federal crime of "domestic terrorism" for over five decades, successfully preventing its establishment. Senate Bill 1220, if enacted, would amend existing Idaho law to include a definition of domestic terrorism that would also replace the term "civil disorder". This change carries similar penalties as for terrorism, including prison sentencing and fines. The bill narrows the scope of anti-terrorist efforts by focusing on crimes committed in Idaho in coordination with a designated foreign terrorist organization.
SB 1220 may inadvertently lead to increased violence, as it links terrorism to foreign actors, potentially leaving unaffiliated violent actors in Idaho uninvestigated or unpunished. The bill raises surveillance and privacy concerns, expanding government authority to monitor communities and potentially enabling profiling based on race, nationality, and other protected categories. Existing laws already grant sufficient authority to address threats of violence, and the proposed bill could lead to government abuse of authority, particularly in the context of our current political climate. Additionally, there are concerns about how the bill might affect constitutionally protected activities, such as climate justice protests, reproductive justice protests, and anti-war protests, as its vague language and severe penalties may impede political dissent.
ACLU of Idaho OPPOSES SB 1220
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