- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho’s governor has blocked proposals ranging from civil asset forfeitures to invasive species protections.

Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter issued the vetoes despite all four measures receiving wide bipartisan support inside the state Legislature. Furthermore, because Idaho lawmakers finished their work for the year last week, there’s no chance of Otter’s decisions being overturned.

Otter vetoed the bills Thursday, but his office held off from letting the public know in order to give lawmakers a heads-up first. The veto notices were eventually posted Friday.

In total, Otter has vetoed seven bills so far this year

Here’s a look at what Otter nixed.

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CIVIL FORFEITURE REFORMS

In his veto letter, Otter argued that he’s not aware of any allegations that Idaho’s law enforcement officers are inappropriately seizing citizen property - thereby declaring HB 202 a solution in search of a problem.

Supporters of the bill disagree. Representatives with the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho point out that the proposal would have created reporting requirements for law enforcement agencies on forfeited property to help point out potential areas of abuse. The measure also would have forbid police from seizing cash or property simply because it was in close proximity to an illegal substance. Agencies would need judicial approval to keep forfeited assets.

States across the county have been scrutinizing their forfeiture laws as civil liberties groups and others have highlighted abuses where police raked in cash and property despite hazy connections to a purported crime.

However, critics counter that the state should trust law enforcement agencies.

“It is my view that it is right and proper for drug dealers to have a healthy fear of losing their personal assets if they are caught breaking the law,” Otter wrote.

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INVASIVE SPECIES AMENDMENTS

Another House bill would have created a new position inside the governor’s office to coordinate efforts to prevent several invasive species from infesting rivers, streams and lakes. However, Otter said no to that idea, as well as separate legislation that would have funneled state general dollars to fund that position.

“Our focus must be on putting more boots on the ground to enhance the successful boat inspection and decontamination program run by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture,” Otter wrote in his veto message.

His language was similar to what Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould wrote to the Idaho Senate in March to express her opposition to HB 274 while lawmakers were amending the bill.

“Aquatic invasive species are a tremendous threat to Idaho,” Gould wrote. “As we have always believed, our best offense is boots on the ground in tandem with outreach and education in our communities and regional partners.”

Instead, both Otter and Gould have praised the Legislature for providing big boosts to programs preventing quagga and zebra mussels crossing into Idaho’s borders.

Officials confirmed larvae from either quagga or zebra mussels in multiple waterways in Montana last year. The mussels can clog pipes and cover beaches, and they travel from one part of the country mainly by hitching rides on trailered boats and other watercraft.

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COSMETOLOGY

Otter says he supports letting people style hair and makeup outside a licensed salon, but he ultimately said no because of HB139’s other changes. Mainly, he objected to reducing the number of hours required to get a cosmetology license and allowing the state to reinstate an expired license retroactively to its expiration date.

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