Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Legislature tackles gun, gender legislation

by SEN. SCOTT HERNDON / Contributing Writer
| March 31, 2024 1:00 AM

Last summer, Idaho's Supreme Court stated in my case, Herndon v. Sandpoint, that all public property becomes private property the minute a private group leases, permits, or contracts to use the city sidewalk, city park, or public building. Even if the private person is only using the otherwise taxpayer-owned public property for a few hours, our court has stated that they may ban your right to carry firearms.

The Second Amendment is treated as the ugly sister of the First Amendment. In a federal court case that is very similar to my Sandpoint lawsuit, the 9th Circuit ruled that there is no way public property ever loses First Amendment protections. Regardless of whether a private group uses the property. That case was Gathright v. Portland.

The governor signed my S1374 this week! S1374 states that not all private users of public property may ban guns.

To invoke a ban on guns, private users will have to restrict access to their events. It will have to be abundantly clear that their event is not freely open to all members of the public, and it will have to be clear that the access is restricted in some way. They will not be allowed to just place gun-free zone signs.

Our next step will be to make private groups that ban firearms on public property they control liable for any harm caused by disarming people if a mass shooting event occurs.

Before we started the current legislative session in January, I drafted a bill that would ban taxpayer monies and public facilities from being used for transgender surgeries and other medical procedures. I then discovered that two representatives in the House had drafted the same legislation, so I let theirs proceed. This week, the governor signed into law House Bill 668.

H668 ensures that taxpayer dollars are not used to provide medical treatment or surgeries for the purpose of changing the appearance of a person's sex in a way that is not consistent with their biological sex. Also, expenditures for such surgeries are not tax deductible. Further, Idaho Medicaid shall not reimburse or provide coverage for transgender expenditures. Physicians employed by taxpayer-funded entities shall not provide such treatments or surgeries in the course and scope of their government service, and government facilities may not be used for the provision of such treatments or surgeries.

These transgender medical and surgical interventions can cause irreversible physical alterations. Some render the patient sterile or with lifelong sexual dysfunction while others mutilate healthy body organs.

On Thursday, the Idaho House gave final approval to a bill that would allow the Idaho State Treasurer to hold a portion of the state's reserves in physical gold and silver. This would set a foundation for Idaho to achieve more financial independence and help undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

I was the senate co-sponsor for Senate Bill 1314. S1314 allows the state treasurer to invest up to 7.5% of the state’s “idle moneys” in physical gold or silver. In effect, it would create a process for the state to hold reserves of gold and silver.

Two days ago, March 28, the House passed S1314 by a scant 36-33 vote.

The bill’s statement of purpose notes that holding a portion of state funds in physical gold and silver would “help secure state assets against the risks of inflation and financial turmoil and/or to achieve capital gains as measured in Federal Reserve Notes.”

From a practical standpoint, holding gold and silver would provide a net benefit to Idaho taxpayers. Under current law, Idaho’s reserves are invested almost exclusively in low-yielding debt paper that carries counterparty risk while its value is diminished by inflation.

As the bill’s statement of purpose points out, “Since the year 2000, the M2 money supply has grown by 350%. In other words, it has more than quadrupled. A quadrupling of the money supply will eventually accelerate the rate of inflation.”

Physical gold and silver is sound money, and I am proud that the key Senate sponsor, Phil Hart, was able to finally get this bill to the governor's desk after many years of effort on his part.

Idaho Sen. Scott Herndon represents Bonner and Boundary counties in District 1. He can be reached at