Idaho industrial hemp bill gets thumbs-up, moves to Senate

William L. Spence, Lewiston Tribune, Idaho
·2 min read

Mar. 12—BOISE — Legislation legalizing the production, processing and transportation of industrial hemp continued to progress Thursday, making it out of committee and to the Senate floor.

The Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee gave a favorable recommendation to House Bill 126, following a short public hearing. No one testified in opposition to the bill, which would allow Idaho farmers to produce the crop, while still respecting law enforcement concerns about marijuana.

"This is an opportunity for growers," said Stacey Satterlee with the Idaho Grain Producers Association. "Farmers are smart. They'll be able to weigh the risks and rewards. They understand this crop needs to be regulated. You have a good bill here, a good product in front of you."

The committee agreed. It gave the legislation a thumbs-up and sent it to the Senate floor for further action. The bill previously passed the House 44-26.

The House approved legislation allowing school district employees with enhanced concealed carry permits to carry concealed weapons on school property.

Under current state law, local school boards must give permission before anyone other than a law enforcement officer or retired officer can bring weapons into a school. House Bill 122 eliminates the need for permission. Employees will have to tell the principal that they have a concealed carry permit, but don't need to divulge whether they're actually carrying a firearm or not.

The Idaho School Boards Association, Idaho Sheriffs Association and Idaho Chiefs of Police Association all opposed the measure.

Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Iona, who co-sponsored the legislation, said the intent is to protect children, particularly in rural school districts where law enforcement would take a long time to respond if there's ever a shooting incident.

Christensen noted that similar laws have been in place in Utah and other states for years, without incident.

"We're not going to see mayhem," he said.

The House approved the bill on a 52-18 near party-line vote. Six Republicans and all 12 House Democrats opposed the measure; every representative from north central Idaho supported it.

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208)-791-9168.