Brothers and Sisters,
The end of the session is rapidly approaching. The word at the Capitol is that they are trying to finish up by next Friday, March 23rd. This does not bode well for our presumptive legislation. We were trying to get a hearing last Friday (the 16th) but the Chairman scheduled us for this coming Wednesday. This only gives us two days to get through the process if they finish on time.
To further complicate matters, we have to amend the bill again. There are two issues that need to be fixed. The first is completely my fault for not reviewing our draft more closely. Our bill currently refers to a pre-employment screening as defined in NFPA 1582. The problem is that the bill drafter showed NFPA as being the “National Fire Protection Act”, not the “National Fire Protection Association”. With all of the scrutiny of the language regarding presumption, I never noticed this detail until after we passed the Senate. This could have been fixed as a typo by Senate or House procedural rules had we not had the second issue.
The second issue is that we did not specify a particular version (2003, 2007, etc.) of the standard. The legislature is very sensitive to having state law upgraded by the change of a standard, a regulation, or a policy that is controlled by another entity. Had we not specified what version of the standard it would have defaulted to the most current one. Consequently, every time NFPA upgraded 1582, state law would in effect be changed. The problem with this is that NFPA could dictate a new standard that costs more money or conflicts with other state code without the approval of our state policy makers. Obviously our lawmakers want to be the ones to decide such things. We will be using the 2007 version of this standard for our amendment.
On a bright note, it looks like we have good support in the House. I’m pretty sure we can get through committee and we are gaining more co-sponsors that will help us when we reach the House floor. We will continue to work hard on this issue up until the gavel is dropped for the final time. There is a chance the session will extend beyond this coming week which may give us the time we need to complete the process. I will update you as it progresses.
Please contact me with any questions or comments.
Professional Firefighters of Idaho
Executive Vice President