2014 Summary Legislative Report
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is a privilege to represent District 21 in the Idaho Legislature. Thank you for giving me this honor for the past two years. I have enjoyed meeting and working with a broad spectrum of citizens both in our district and around Idaho that have helped me to shape what I believe to be a better Idaho. Idaho has always been a great state and working together can only help us to improve it. I hope the citizens of this district agree and decide to allow me another two years to continue to improve our great state.
I value the opinions of the people of this district and thank you for the many phone calls, e-mails and letters. More often than not, I get support or opposition on both sides of most issues and this is a very important part of the legislative process. I try to keep an open mind and make thoughtful, informed decisions, which means your input is critical. Please continue to contact me. If you would like to contribute to my campaign, either with financial support or by lending a hand, you can let me know as well.
Some important issues in the 2014 legislative session:
- Education received $1.7 Billion, the largest portion of Fiscal Year 2015 State funds.
- FY 2015 public school funding is a $66 million increase and a 5.1% state general fund spending increase.
- FY 2015 contains a 1% teacher salary increase.
- There is $16 million to begin implementing the Governor’s Education Taskforce recommendations.
It is also helpful to compare Idaho education with other states, particularly with our limited resources.
According to the American Education Report Card:
- Idaho ranks 29th overall – outperforming Oregon, Utah, California and Arizona.
- Receives an Education Policy grade is B-, with only six states with a higher grade.
- 28th in fourth grade reading proficiency Ranks 19th in eighth grade reading proficiency
- Is 11th place in eighth grade math
- Eighth grade student reading proficiency is only 10% below number one Massachusetts
- Massachusetts spends $113,920 per student by the end of eighth grade while Idaho spends $68,200.
- D.C. eighth grade reading proficiency is only 1% above Idaho students, but spends 2 ½ times per student.
Idaho Legislative Services Office research found that:
- Idaho is 16th nationwide on the ACT test.
Based on positive economic forecasts, General Fund appropriations were increased by 5.6%. Public schools received a 5.1% increase, higher education a 6.6% increase, Medicaid a 3.1% increase and Department of Correction a 11% increase. A General Fund agency spending comparison can be found the 2014 Session Summary Sine Die Report.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
HB 546a, Tax incentive legislation: The state is allowed to consider rebating up to 30% of a company’s sales tax, income tax and corporate tax. The rebate incentive applies to both new companies as well as existing companies. A rebate can be considered if a company brings at least 20 new jobs to a rural area or 50 new jobs to an urban area. The new jobs must pay higher wages than what is typically paid in the area.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM:
Bills from the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Interim Committee:
H 542 establishes a State Public Defense Commission.
S 1357 is one of the reform bills. This law addresses three challenges facing Idaho’s criminal justice system: a revolving door of recidivism from supervision and diversion programs, use of prison space and oversight of recidivism-reduction investments. It could avert up to $288 million in new prison spending over the next five years.
S 1374a is another reform bill. It allows inmate labor to work for private employers in the production, harvesting and processing of perishable Idaho agricultural food products.
S 1254, firearm Legislation becomes effective July 1, 2014. I supported this law that allows concealed weapons permit holders 21 and older to carry on college campuses. You may review details on my stance regarding this new law here.
H 475 provides that Idaho Health Exchange users may comparison shop before submitting private data and provides that a warning will be given to users regarding the security of data being submitted.
SB 1352 authorizes development of behavioral health community crisis centers.
HJM 6 requests the Secretary of Health and Human Service to suspend PPACA “Obamacare” taxes on the Healthcare industry and conduct a national review of the impact of passed the House and Senate. The 2.3% medical device tax alone could cost Idaho nearly 100 jobs with an economic impact of $11.5 Million and the impact to United States is estimated to be $29 Billion over the next 10 years.
HB 479 allocates $15 million to more actively and effectively manage surface and underground water sources throughout Idaho. The funding will enable the State to plan and implement projects aimed at ensuring communities, industry, agriculture; recreation and tourism have the water needed for many years to come.
HB 547 allocates $5 million for statewide aquifer sustainability The Idaho Water Resource Board will use the money to identify and fund recharge and other projects.
HJM 7, The 2011 Federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) would cost some small business at least $2,000 and Idaho Farmers more than $30,000 annually. This Memorial asks Congress to prohibit FDA adoption of the numeric water-quality rules and the transportation rules until a clear impact of the rules can be known and also requests the Commissioner of FDA to suspend imposition of the rules and conduct a national review of their impact.
HJR 2, the “Regulatory Freedom” bill, which will make the legislative rule review authority a part of the Idaho Constitutional, was signed March 19, 2014 and now must be approved by the voters. Currently the Idaho Legislature has the legal authority to review, approve or reject proposed state agency rules. Agency rules have the full force and effect of law. Because agency rules must directly reflect the legislative intent of Idaho law, this authority is very important for every Idahoan and the legislature takes the rule review responsibility very seriously.
HB 378 is legislation creating an annual celebration, Idaho Day, to be celebrated on March 4th. This date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day Abraham Lincoln created the Idaho Territory. Idaho Day, however, will not be an official state holiday.
H 441a clarifies issues dealing with personal property tax exemptions from 2013.
HB 530, Use Tax exemption: Effective 3/18/2014, agricultural producers and processor donations of food and beverage to support community and youth events, to family members and neighbors, to non-profit organizations or items served as product samples are now exempt from the previously imposed 6% use tax.
I take very seriously my responsibility as a representative of the people as I live up to the charge Ronald Reagan gave to me while I worked for him: “to make a difference in the lives of my fellow citizens.” I appreciate hearing from you. Please give me the benefit of your opinions. This will allow me to serve you and our community.