|At this time, Chairman Jones asked for public testimony.
Bill Chisholm rose in opposition to H 217, H 226, and H 227. He said
that these bills stand against the purpose of government, which is to
protect the right of due process. He said that odor in Buhl is a huge issue
and that it is dangerous to exclude smoke or odor from being a trespasser.
Del Rust, Benewah County Farm Bureau, spoke in favor of all four bills.
He said that these bills will promote the common welfare and protect farms
Frank Priestly, Idaho Farm Bureau, spoke in favor of all four bills. He
said that farmers should be protected from lawsuits if they are only doing
what is allowable by law. He doesn’t think it is fair to have an entity in
another part of the state telling farmers when they can burn.
Lauren McLean, Idaho Conservation League, stood in opposition to all
four bills. She believes the bills will restrict citizens’ rights to protect their
property. She said that select polluters will be favored.
Mike Ricks, Idaho Grain Growers, stood in favor of all four bills. He said
that farmers should not be held liable for acting in accordance with law.
Production agriculture needs all the available tools to survive, and farmers
cannot afford to lose the tool of burning.
Kevin Beaton, attorney for Idaho Farm Bureau and Food Producers,
spoke to the legal issues of the bills. He does not believe that there are
any legal hurdles involved. These bills will simply codify existing laws.
Fred Riggers, Nezperce farmer, asked the committees to vote for all four
bills. He said that farmers need all the help they can get to get out from
underneath this pressure.
Ginny Gunn rose in opposition to H 217, H 226, and H 227. She said that
she was guaranteed the right of enjoyment when she bought her property,
but she has been unable to do that because of dairy odors. She said that
the Idaho Farm Bureau wants to take away the right to file suit.
Helen McCracken rose in opposition to all four bills. She stated that H
217 destroys victims’ rights of redress.
V.C. Prudek said he does not want the Idaho Farm Bureau to speak for
him. He does not want conflict and thinks both sides should unite
Scott Burgstaller, Sandpoint physician, stood in opposition to all four
bills. He said that the issue is health, not a nuisance problem. He stated
that there have been fatalities caused by the smoke.
Patti Gora, SAFE director, stood in opposition to all four bills. She said
that there may be Constitutionality problems with H 217, H 226, and H
227. She said that there is plenty of economic harm on the other side of
the issue, including people losing their jobs because of illness or having to
flee from their homes. Permitting burning cannot remove the obligation to
Tony Park, a Boise Attorney representing the American Lung
Association, spoke in opposition to H217, H226, and H228. Field burning
has an adverse impact on individuals whose health is already impaired.
Ralph Sleyager from Sandpoint, ID spoke in opposition to H217, H226,
H227 and H228 because field smoke affects peoples lives.
Pat Takasugi, Director Of ISDA, stated that for the state and the health
of the state you have to look at the possible economic impact of this
legislation or a lack of legislation. There have been problems
implementing programs because of the litigation. The checks and
balances in the legislature are the best forum to resolve these problems,
not in the court. Preserving and protecting the environment is the right
thing to do but there are two environments; air, water, and soil is one and
the other is the business environment.
Bob Stoltz from Castleford, ID spoke in opposition to H217 and H226
stating that in the long run they would harm agriculture.
Phong Smith from Filer, ID spoke in opposition to H217 and H226 stating
that they take away the rights of citizens to protect themselves and to seek
remedy for nuisances thrust upon them.
Jim Dekleinhans a professional engineer from Twin Falls, ID spoke in
opposition to H217, H 226 and H227. He considers this legislation to be for
special interests and against the good of the general public. Operators
should be encouraged to eliminate odors.
Allen Hagelthorn, executive director for the Bonner County Board of
Realtors, spoke in opposition to all the proposed legislation. He stated
that they benefit a few and impact many. They believe the burning has
caused a $2M drop in tourist revenue in Sandpint.
Ed Smith from Filer, ID spoke in opposition to all the proposed legislation
stating that they were and assault on his quality of life and they are for
special interest groups.
Roger Batt, representing IEOSA and the Idaho Mint Growers
Association, spoke in support of all the legislation. The mint industry
generates $14.5M in revenue and the seed industry $250M in annual
revenue to support Idaho.
Victoria Paulson, from the Idaho Medical Association, stated that
resolution of this issue will occur with the tools created by the legislature.
She said that if you say grass growers should not be charged with
nuisance, you assume that following the rules does not cause health
problems. The state of Idaho is sanctioning something that causes people
to become ill.
Keith Damon from Benewah County spoke in favor of all the proposed
legislation. He is one of 70 farmers that are currently being sued by
SAFE. In their mediation attempts SAFE has made it clear that there is no
settlement short of a complete ban. The “balance” plaintiffs are seeking
will bankrupt the farmers.
Kristy Reed Johnson from Post Falls, ID serves on the Kootenai County
air quality advisory board and spoke in regard to H227. The farmers
should not be sued as individuals if they are compliant with the smoke
management programs. The PM2.5 concentration that is of concern to
health officials need to take into consideration all open burning.
Bob Branson a farmer from Nezperce, ID spoke in support of H227 and
any legislation that protects a rural farm family from lawsuits.
Paul Damon and his son Timothy Damon from Benewah County
spoke in favor of H217, H226, H227, and H228. Timothy would like to be
able to become a fourth generation farmer. The environmentally beneficial
crop helps to maintain the clean water and air of the area. They are
currently involved in the lawsuit against bluegrass growers and they stand
to lose their farm. These bills are needed to clarify the intent of the “Right
to Farm Law”.
Phil Lampert a farmer in Benewah County, spoke in favor of H217,
H226, H227, and H228. He burns responsibly and has a good rapport
with his neighbors.
Lawrence Lampert spoke in favor of H217, H226, H227, and H228. The
added cost to producers by not burning is about $40/acre and shortens the
stand life and it’s yield potential. The burn ban in Washington left 90% of
the pollutants in Spokane County unscathed.
Jim Wenholf a farmer from Grangeville, ID spoke in favor of H217,
H226, H227, and H228. He described his current situation as “when urban
sprawl collides with agriculture”. He feels a Seattle law firm has been
hired out to set Idaho Policy. They now have to lobby for protection from
lawsuits after obeying every letter of the law.
Nathan Riggers a farmer in Nezperce, ID spoke in favor of H217, H226,
H227, and H228. There is a double standard for agriculture burning and
proscribed forest burning. Simplot is closing a local plant because of the
uncertainty in the grass seed industry.
David and Peter Lampert farmers from Worley, ID spoke in favor of
H217, H226, H227, and H228. They are involved in the lawsuit even
though they have followed every rule in the books and have never violated
any EPA standard. Continued insurance coverage is a concern if this
legislation is not passed.
Linda Clovis from the North Idaho Farmers Association spoke in favor
of H217, H226, H227, and H228. Farmers have been bombarded by
lawsuits and the nuisance and trespass lawsuits are just another way for
the opposition to try to end field burning. The PM2.5 concentration has
been at it’s highest on the 4th of July and during slash burning for the last
three years. The farmers have not violated any EPA guidelines or laws.
Kyle Holly a farmer from Moscow, ID spoke in favor of H217, H226,
H227, and H228.
Walt Meyer a farmer from the Rathdrum Prairie spoke in favor of H217,
H226, H227, and H228. The farmers are being litigated out of business
when no standards or rules have been broken. These lawsuits will affect
the US’s ability to compete in the world agriculture markets.
The majority of people in the area would like them to continue raising
bluegrass because of the environmental benefits.
Jeff Tee a farmer from North Idaho spoke in favor of H217, H226, H227,
and H228. The land is not suitable for other commodities. The industry
currently creates jobs, cash flow and taxes which will be lost.
Richard Morrison a farmer from Benewah County spoke in favor of
H217, H226, H227, and H228. He recently had his liability coverage
cancelled because he has been named in the lawsuit. He was only able to
obtain new insurance because he signed a no-burn clause.
Bill Dole a farmer from Kootenai County spoke in favor of H217, H226,
H227, and H228.
Dave Tellessen from Seeds Inc. spoke in favor of H217, H226, H227,
and H228. 80% of grass they process is grown in Idaho. Most of the
grass growers from Washington have left the business due to the burn
bans there. This legislation will protect Idaho farmers and jobs.
Davis Mosman a farmer from North Idaho spoke in favor of H217,
H226, H227, and H228.
Katie Simmons from Buhl, ID spoke in opposition to H217, H226, H227