2016 Legislature Report—Week 1, January 11 – 15, 2016

The 2016 Session of the Idaho State Legislature is off to a slow but steady start. The first item of business on January 11, 2016 was the State of the State message from the Governor.   In his address, Governor Otter laid out his policy and budget proposals including increased funding for education.  You can read his address here.  The legislature will now analyze and determine which of these proposals can be supported and funded within the revenue projections.

Idaho is one of 17 states where the legislature can reject pending rules from Idaho State agencies preventing the rules from going into effect.  Each legislative session begins with a committee rules review process.  Therefore, I am participating in the discussion, clarification, and approval or disapproval of the administrative rules relating to the agencies under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture, Revenue and Taxation, and Judiciary and Rules Committees during the first few weeks of the 2016 Legislature.  Individual citizens can participate in this process and I encourage anyone interested to do so.  There are individuals from District 21 presenting their concerns regarding some of the Department of Health and Welfare rules and at House Health and Welfare Committee hearing on January 25th.   You can find the rules for the various departments at http://adminrule.idaho.gov/  Let me know if there are any concerns regarding other rules.

The Committee on Revenue and Taxation will also be considering options to provide tax relief to the state’s citizens.  Items were brought forward from a 2015 summer Legislative Ad Hoc Tax Working Group.  I, with the 11 other members of this group, spent considerable time over the summer gathering and analyzing taxation data and preparing various options for tax relief to Idaho taxpayers.  Some of the recommendations included:

Adjusting the personal and corporate income tax rates
Adjusting the personal property tax deduction
Eliminating or adjusting the sales tax on food

I attended the Food Producers of Idaho Award Banquet on January 13, 2016 to receive their 2015 Ag All Star legislative award.

The first bill introduced in the House this year (HB331).  The purpose of this proposed legislation is to prohibit the possession, use, sale and purchase of powdered alcohol.

On Wednesday the 13th I was joined by Representative Erpelding on a tax policy panel at the Idaho Credit Union League meeting.

Some additional legislative issues on my agenda this year are:  1. School Based Medicaid Funding.  2. Reauthorization of the Idaho Rural Partnership. 3. Making the compensation of officers, directors and certain employees of Idaho insurance companies available to the public. 4.  Creation of a model for review of Idaho Tax structure.