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Bill Aiming to Cripple IEA Passes House State Affairs Committee

February 29, 2024

A bill aiming to cripple the operations of the Idaho Education Association was endorsed by the House State Affairs Committee Friday morning.

Drafted and lobbied for by the Freedom Foundation, a national anti-teacher’s union policy mill closely allied with the Idaho Freedom Foundation, House Bill 602 strips the authority of local school districts to work cooperatively or negotiate in good faith with local chapters of the IEA.

“This is an out-of-state solution looking for an Idaho problem,” said Paul Stark, IEA’s executive director, in testimony against the bill. It’s part of an entire slate of bills aimed at blunting the IEA’s effectiveness at defending Idaho students, public schools and educators.

In addition to the IEA, lawmakers heard testimony opposing the bill from Idaho’s two other public employee unions, the Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho and the Fraternal Order of the Police, as well as the Idaho Association of School Administrators, the Idaho chapter of the AFL-CIO and the Idaho Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The Idaho School Boards Association also oppose the bill.

“We did not ask for this bill, nor did we have any input in the bill. We do not see any need for the bill,” said Dale Lane, speaking on behalf of the IASA. “It appears that this is targeted directly at teachers in an attempt to dismantle the teacher’s union.”

Despite opposing testimony, the panel endorsed the bill in a 10-3 vote, including a “do-pass” recommendation. It now awaits deliberation by the full House of Representatives. The three members of the committee to vote against the measure were Reps. Christopher Allgood (R-Caldwell), John Gannon (D-Boise) and Todd Achilles (D-Boise).

Sponsored by three North Idaho lawmakers, Sen. Ben Toews (R-Couer d’Alene), Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) and Rep. Dale Hawkins (R-Fernwood), the bill seeks to significantly limit or prohibit compensation or work leave related to an educator’s role or membership in the IEA and the use of school property for union-related meetings or activities.

Significantly, House Bill 602 only targets educator unions and excludes members of other public employee unions in Idaho like police officers and firefighters. The IEA is the only educator union of any significance in Idaho.


Hawkins briefly introduced the legislation to the committee before turning his time over to a national lobbyist from the Freedom Foundation, who was given approximately 15 minutes to present the bill to the panel by Chairman Brent Crane (R-Nampa). The only other testimony in favor of the bill also came from an out-of-state lobbyist. All other testifiers, including the IEA, were only permitted two minutes to present their objections.

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