House just after adjourning

The Idaho House, shown moments after adjourning on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

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The House has adjourned until 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, but not without killing yet another bill — this time SB 1088a, a Senate-passed bill regarding rental fees, requiring only that they be disclosed to tenants in advance and that tenants get 30 days notice of changes to those fees. The bill had been amended; its original version also required that fees charged to tenants must be "reasonable." That portion was removed in Senate amendments earlier; the bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sen. Ali Rabe, D-Boise, and co-sponsored by Sen. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, and Reps. Colin Nash, D-Boise, and Caroline Nilsson-Troy, R-Genesee.

There was no debate on the bill after Nash presented it to the House by reading its brief text; the House killed it on a 28-40 vote. SB 1088a had earlier passed the Senate, 26-8, on March 2.

Meanwhile, the Senate had a lengthy and emotional debate today on SB 1183, the "fetal heartbeat" anti-abortion bill, before passing it on a 28-7 party-line vote; and is now in the midst of an extended debate on HB 294 as amended in the Senate, the "Strong Families, Strong Students" grant bill. Post Register reporter Sally Krutzig covered the Senate debates; here's a link to her full story on the abortion bill at postregister.com, and here's a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone:

By Rebecca Boone

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Senate passed a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in the state by banning them once fetal cardiac activity can be detected.

The so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill passed Tuesday 28-7 on a party-line vote.

Bill sponsor Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, a Republican from Huston, said a fetal heartbeat is a sign that life exists and that she believes the state has a compelling interest in protecting that life. She also said the bill could help families who are hoping to adopt children — presumably because some women, unable to obtain abortions, might choose to carry to term and then give the infants to adoptive families.

“A woman can give birth and continue her life goals," she said. “It is a humane act to protect those who are unable to speak for themselves.”

The legislation makes providing an abortion to a woman whose embryo has detectible cardiac activity punishable by up to five years in prison, and it would allow the woman who receives the abortion to sue the abortion provider.

Cardiac activity can be detected as early as six weeks using an invasive vaginal ultrasound — before many women discover they are pregnant. The bill contains exceptions for women whose lives are at risk because of a medical emergency, or women who have become pregnant by rape or incest, but only if they report the crime to law enforcement and give a copy of the report to the health care provider performing the abortion.

The bill also contains a “trigger provision” that means it wouldn't go into effect unless a federal appellate court somewhere in the country upholds similar legislation from another state. Similar bills have been passed in several other states, and some are already being litigated. Last month, a federal court temporarily blocked a fetal heartbeat bill in South Carolina.

Sen. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat from Boise, said the exception for rape and incest would likely be impossible for many women to meet, because Idaho law protects law enforcement reports from active investigations from being released. Many rape victims don't want to report the crimes to law enforcement right away, and even if they do, the reports are often sealed for three months or more. Forcing women to immediately report their rape and then fight to get a copy of the report quickly enough for any abortion would deeply compound the trauma they have already experienced, she said.

“It's really quite difficult to get a police report during an active investigation, and police records are exempt from disclosure,” Wintrow said. “I implore you, regardless of all the other things, that this bill cannot go forward for that reason ... support a human life that is as valuable as any other.”

Research from the U.S. Department of Justice has found that as many as 80 percent of rapes go unreported for various reasons.

The legislation now goes to the House.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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