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Just like zombies, bad bills keep returning

by SEN. SCOTT HERNDON / Contributing Writer
| March 10, 2024 1:00 AM

This week I voted in favor of Senate Bill 1252, and it passed 27-8 on the Idaho Senate floor.

This important piece of legislation would prohibit the deployment of the Idaho National Guard into combat for the United States without a declaration of war by the United States Congress.

You may already know that Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution authorizes only the U.S. Congress to declare war. The Congress has done so 11 times in the history of the United States, but the last time was World War II.

Since then, we have been in countless wars, and none of them have been declared.

There are those now pushing for an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution because they believe it needs changing. I would argue that there is a lot in the Constitution already that is simply not enforced nor respected. Declarations of war as a congressional power is one of the abused principles already explicit in the Constitution.

Instead of declaring wars, the U.S. has relied on a series of presidential orders or proclamations. This practice has ignored the power of the federal legislature as the sole authority over this power. The reason our founders placed such a power in the hands of the Congress is because in our nation, we, the people have the political power, and we have granted it to our representatives in the legislatures of both our federal and state governments. The U.S. Congress should therefore be the people who make decisions about war since they are the most accountable to us.

Here is the key text in Idaho Senate Bill 1252. The bill will now be considered by the Idaho House of Representatives:

The Idaho national guard and any member thereof shall not be released from the state into active duty combat unless the United States Congress has passed an official declaration of war or has taken an official action pursuant to clause 15, section 8, article I of the United States Constitution to explicitly call forth the Idaho national guard and any member thereof for the enumerated purposes to expressly execute the laws of the union, repel an invasion, or suppress an insurrection.

On a separate topic, In the Idaho Legislature, there's one thing we know for sure: a corporate-sponsored bill is like a zombie — no matter how many times you think you've defeated it, it keeps coming back to life again and again.

For example, Senate Bill 1245 regarding pesticides was introduced in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee early in the session. This bill would have protected Bayer US LLC from being sued in Idaho for harm caused by Roundup, an herbicide produced by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired in 2018.

Roundup has faced legal challenges due to health concerns, including claims of causing cancer. The bill is significant for Idaho, as the state heavily relies on Roundup for farming, a vital industry.

Despite the economic importance, serious concerns exist regarding the potential health risks associated with Roundup. SB1245 stated that as long as the company includes EPA warning labels on its product, it fulfills its duty to warn, thereby limiting its liability in lawsuits.

Thanks to our Idaho Freedom Caucus, other conservative allies, and the seven Senate Democrats, the bill was defeated on the Senate floor. We stood against big corporate agriculture, ensuring protection for everyday Idahoans potentially harmed by pesticides.

But just like zombies, bad bills are hard to keep dead.

After SB1245 died on the Senate floor, House Bill 653 rose from its ashes and was introduced on the other side of the rotunda. HB653 is a slight variation of SB1245 and still offers significant legal immunity for pesticide and herbicide companies. It still states that EPA-approved labels are sufficient to warn about health risks, making it harder to hold companies like Bayer accountable for harm.

This past week, the bill was scheduled for a hearing in the House Business Committee but was abruptly removed from the agenda. We were aware of what was happening and are ready to oppose the bill again if needed.

We believe that Bayer sent its lobbyists to Idaho to test whether the legislation would be successful before spreading it to other states.

In the ongoing fight against undue corporate influence, I will continue to remain vigilant, ready to oppose any antics and keep bad bills, like zombies, from rising again.


Idaho Sen. Scott Herndon represents Bonner and Boundary counties in District 1. He can be reached at sherndon@senate.idaho.gov.