Washington and Idaho Gov’s Spar Over Bill
The Governors of neighboring states are at odds over a particular issue. One State has taken action to increase access, while another has taken action creating a more measured approach.
Two bills...two different approaches. In one case, the Governor of said neighboring State left the other to conduct their business without attempting to intervene. In the other case, the Governor of the other said neighboring State sent a letter requesting a veto of that State's bill.
Enough Talking in Circles
Washington State and Idaho both passed legislation on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs vs Jackson Women's Health Organization case that effectively returned purview of abortion to the States from the Federal Government. Both bills directly impact minors.
How are Minors Impacted?
Washington State passed Senate Bill 5599 (SB 5599) which would allow youth shelter to house runaway minors, and not contact their parents, if there is a "compelling reason" not to do so. Gender affirming and reproductive care qualify as "compelling reasons" and abortion is listed under reproductive care. In short, a minor can theoretically get an abortion by going to a youth shelter and their parents will not be informed of their intention.
Idaho had a trigger law kick in when the Dobbs ruling came down that banned abortion in the State. The legislature then passed House Bill 242 (HB 242) which would make it illegal to assist a minor in getting an out of State abortion without parental knowledge and consent. It defines the practice as "trafficking" and would impose a prison sentence of up to five years on the adult who took part.
The Response Letter
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to Idaho Gov. Brad Little on April 4th, via email, asking him to veto HB 242 when it hit his desk. Inslee warned of " many unacceptable consequences that cannot be cured" if Little signed the bill. The next day Little signed the bill in to law.
Two weeks after signing HB 242, Little penned a response to Inslee. In it, he said Idaho had a "the right and duty' to make laws in light of the Dobbs decision. He went on to say HB 242 had been mischaracterized by Inslee and the media and that why wouldn't Inslee support parents having knowledge regarding their child's intent of having an abortion.
The "Gem State" Governor didn't stop there. While he acknowledged that residents in both States may choose to relocate to the other..he asked this question:
"It is hard to imagine why someone would leave Idaho for Washington when your state is home to sky high taxes, crime, and public encampments. Meanwhile, Idaho has turned back more tax relief per capita than any other state, we’re one of the safest states in nation, and we don’t back down to activists – we kick illegal public encampments off public property."
Nothing New with These Two
Inslee and Little have a history of sparring publicly over issue that impact each State. In 2022 Little sent Inslee a letter regarding a fuel tax the Legislature was considering as part of the "Move Ahead WA" Transportation Act that would impact his State. They also sparred during the COVID pandemic with Inslee criticizing Idaho's measures and Idaho returning the volley
I don't think it is a stretch to say Christmas cards will not be penned between the two State leaders.