Legislative session ends

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

The Idaho House of Representatives voted to end its legislative session Friday, March 20 amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The House voted 32-28 to end the session a day after the Idaho Senate went home. There was some debate on ending early from several lawmakers concerned they wouldn’t be around to exercise veto override should Gov. Little veto two bills passed by the House and Senate.

The two bills in question currently awaiting Gov. Little’s signature or veto include one that would bar transgender individuals from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates and another that would ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports.

HB 509, which was approved March 17 by the Senate and House, is currently on Little’s desk. It would allow for changes to be made to a birth certificate only up to one year after a child’s birth if the change is made to correct an error. The legislation argues that allowing people to change their listed sex “undermines the government’s interest in having accurate vital records.” Opponents argue it would unfairly target people looking to obtain accurate documentation in a move that will result in a costly legal challenge if the governor signs it.

HB 500 also was approved by the House and Senate and is currently awaiting a signature or veto by Gov. Little. If signed into law, the bill would apply to all sports teams in Idaho sponsored by public schools, colleges or universities. A girls’ or women’s team would not be open to students who were born as male, even if they identify as female. The bill does not apply to transgender students wanting to participate in boys’ or men’s sports. Furthermore, if a girl’s sex is challenged by an opposing coach, administrator or parent, it can be proven by presenting a signed physicians statement after a genital exam of the student.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office issued an analysis of both bills to Idaho lawmakers that claimed both were possibly unconstitutional and open to costly legal challenges if signed into law.

Idaho Attorney General Assistant Chief Deputy Brian Kane released an opinion Feb. 25 claiming he had “concerns about the defensibility of the proposed legislation.” 

Kane detailed several points of weakness in the bills – specifically by requiring gender identification for only some athletes, not all, would be “constitutionally problematic.” Kane also found issue with the fact that the bill’s impact would justify the invasion of privacy required to establish an athlete’s gender.

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