The Idaho Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee on Jan. 14 approved entire sets of administrative rules for seven commodity groups as part of a statewide effort to streamline regulations.

Rules are a big topic during the 2020 Idaho Legislature session that commenced Jan. 6. Lawmakers in 2019 adjourned without passing the traditional late-session bill encompassing all statutory organizations’ existing and updated rules. Republican Gov. Brad Little subsequently ordered agencies to reduce and simplify rules, which became temporary when the fiscal year began July 1.

Now many agencies’ updated rules, crafted through administrators’ work and public input through most of last year, are circulating in legislative committees.

Senate Ag on Jan. 14 approved rules for state wheat, barley, hop growers, honey and oilseed commissions, as well as for the state Beef Council and the Sheep and Goat Health Board. None of the groups is changing policies or fees.

New rules for the honey and oilseed commissions have been simplified, and will be easier for constituents to understand and apply, said Benjamin Kelly, who does administrative work for both.

The Hop Growers Commission clarified some language and eliminated some. For example, early references to “annual” and “200-pound bale” were eliminated because they appear later, Executive Director Candi Fitch said.

The Sheep and Goat Health Board in its new rules removes harsh wordings like “shall not” and replaces some Latin terms with English, said Executive Secretary Naomi LeGere-Gordon.

The update for the Idaho Beef Council eliminates obsolete or unnecessary rules, including two pages of common business practices such as how the logo is showcased, CEO T.K. Kuwahara said.

At the Barley Commission, repetitive definitions were removed, Administrator Laura Wilder said.

Changes at the Idaho Wheat Commission will be minimal, Executive Director Blaine Jacobson said, because IWC two years ago completed a fairly substantial rules cleanup.

Senate Ag Vice Chair Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, said these groups "have a foundation in industry and serve industry, and are self-taxed." Commodity commissions, for example, collect a checkoff to fund marketing, research and grower education.

These rule sets will not return to the committee in bill form, she said. Instead, they will go to the Senate floor as a resolution, likely packaged together. The same process is slated in the House, “and we are in communication with them on any issue we see."

Den Hartog said multiple individual Idaho State Department of Agriculture rules will also go through Senate and House committee review. Reasons for such reviews include that a revised rule amounts to a substantive change or is more restrictive than a federal rule, in which case Idaho Code requires additional study and outreach.

ISDA Deputy Director Brian Oakey said the regulatory agency's proposed new rules are now in 40 sections instead of 77, and place single activities or industries under one rule so users don’t have to move back and forth in reading state code.

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