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Roundup: House committee pauses Blaine amendment removal, introduces anti-porn bill

A photo inside the Idaho capitol building looking up at the dome with the Idaho state flag hanging in the foreground.
James Dawson
/
Boise State Public Radio
The Idaho state flag hangs in the capitol rotunda.

The latest attempt to allow taxpayer money to pay for private religious school expenses is temporarily on hold.

Rep. Joe Palmer (R-Meridian) said he fully supports the proposed constitutional amendment, but that he needed technical questions answered before it could move to the House floor.

A majority of public testimony taken before the House State Affairs Committee Tuesday morning sided with the legislation.

That included Rowan Astra who represented Satanic Idaho.

“I look forward to the opportunity to start a Satanic K-12 performing arts school and being able to have access to the same funds that any other religious school would have,” Astra said.

Other supporters said the ban on public funding going to religious institutions is discriminatory and outdated.

“It is an essential part of our very democracy,” countered Jean Henscheid, urging the committee to vote down the proposal and preserve the separation of church and state.

A recent statewide survey from Boise State University found public opinion to be more split on the idea depending on how the state implemented such a program.

This proposed constitutional amendment would simply lay the groundwork to allow taxpayer dollars to flow to religious schools and institutions instead of shaping a program itself.

The Boise State survey found 49% of people supported allowing Idaho parents to use $8,000 out of the public school system and use it for private or religious education compared to 41% who opposed the idea.

That support fell by about 12% if such a program would result in smaller public school budgets.

Palmer didn’t explain what questions he still had delaying the resolution’s passage. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A constitutional amendment requires two-thirds approval from both the House and Senate. Then, at least 50% of voters during the next general election would need to support it for it to pass.

House State Affairs also unanimously introduced a bill requiring pornography websites to verify a user’s age in Idaho or risk being sued in civil court.

 “We have a constitutional duty … to protect virtue and sobriety and promote temperance and morality,” said Rep. Elaine Price (R-Coeur d’Alene), one of the bill’s chief sponsors.

Content creators that feature explicit content on more than one-third of their websites would be subject to the legislation.

The bill requires them to either verify a user’s age through a government-issued ID or use a third-party system to do so.

If a minor still accesses a website with explicit material, a parent could sue for a minimum of $10,000, plus damages within four years.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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