2016 Summary Legislative Report
Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for giving me this honor to represent District 21 in the Idaho Legislature for the past four years. The citizens in our district, as well as people around Idaho, have been a great help to me. Both sides of the issues have always been well-presented and fully considered. The many phone calls, e-mails, and letters have been a critical part of the process I use to make thoughtful and informed decisions. Please continue to contact me here on my website.
Important issues in the 2016 legislative session:
The legislature began on January 11, 2016. Revenue projections for fiscal year (FY) 2017 represent the sixth consecutive year of economic growth, an estimated revenue growth of 4.9% for FY 2017 after a 4.1% estimate for FY 2016. The strengthening economy allowed the Legislature to address areas of vital interest to Idahoans such as the state’s public education system. Public schools received its second consecutive 7.4% increase in funding. The K-12 budget was increased by 7.4% and higher educations received an increase of 8.0%. Increases were also made at 8.7% to Community Colleges and 10.4% for Career Technical Education. The FY 2017 budget also gives $2,000,000 for grants, scholarships, and programs, and $2,000,000 for startup initiatives that promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Some of the other notable legislative actions were to: re-codify the state purchasing laws that includes new contract oversight requirements; authorize the Public Defense Commission to develop rules for indigent defense standards; require public school districts to offer a reading intervention program to each kindergarten through grade 3 student who exhibits reading deficiency; provide for the regulation of dangerous or at-risk dogs that injure humans; set the homeowner property tax exemption at a maximum of $100,000; and provided that the state will meet requirements for driver’s licenses and ID cards established in the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. Public health districts received a 6.5% funding increase and based on the recommendations of the Joint Change in Employee Compensation Committee, a 3.0% merit increase was given to state employees.
More complete documents including an expanded overview of legislation called the Sine Die Report , the text of any bill, administrative rules, key actions of the session and a more detailed look at the Legislature’s budget decisions is available on the legislative website.
Over 820 pieces of legislation were drafted, of which approximately two-thirds (more than 550) were introduced as bills. The following is a summary list of selected key actions that successfully made their way through the legislative process in the 2016 Legislature. A one-page budget comparison is also included.
- H 531 Prohibits breaches of bio-security, through acts with the intent to damage, poison or infect the crops, livestock, products or facilities of an agricultural facility or agricultural operation, without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the facility or operation, and provides for penalties and fines.
- H 525a Provides for the regulation of dangerous or at-risk dogs that injure humans, by allowing courts discretion to differentiate less severe at-risk behavior from dangerous behavior, and provides appropriate conditions for keeping the offending dog to ensure public safety.
- H 417 Revises the membership and responsibilities of the Idaho Rural Development Partnership.
Criminal Justice and Public Safety:
- H 331a Prohibits the possession, sale, purchase and use of powdered alcohol and provides for the revocation of liquor licenses held by violators.
- H 504 Authorizes the Public Defense Commission to promulgate rules for indigent defense standards; requires compliance with indigent defense standards; provides grant money to counties to assist in providing public defense; provides procedures for noncompliance with indigent defense standards; and revises reporting requirements for defending attorneys.
- H 524 Provides that torture of a companion animal is a felony on the first offense if the person has been convicted of voluntary infliction of bodily injury upon a person within the previous ten years and provides that a court, in its discretion, may order a presentence investigation that includes a psychological evaluation.
- H 528 Provides that the Idaho State Police Forensic Services Laboratory shall test sexual assault evidence kits within 90 days, provides duties for health care facilities and local law enforcement, provides procedures for testing kits, provides for the retention of kits, provides reporting and auditing requirements for untested kits and provides for victim notification regarding the testing of kits.
- H 556 Enhances the role of the courts in the decision-making process regarding adoption choices and placement of foster children, and outlines circumstances by which foster children can be moved from one foster home to another.
- H 580 Provides that a victim of rape need not offer resistance where the victim has a well-founded belief that resistance would be futile or that resistance would result in the use of force or violence; provides that both males and females are capable of committing rape; and revises terminology in the definition of “rape” to make it gender neutral.
- HJR 5 Proposes an amendment to the Idaho Constitution that provides for the legislative review of administrative rules and clarifies that such legislative review is not subject to veto by the Governor.
- S1351 Provides that prisoners in a county jail may be required to perform labor on community service projects.
- S1361 Provides that money to administer public defense may be appropriated from the Justice Fund, the Nonmedical Indigent Fund and the Current Expense Fund.
- S1373 Provides that a victim of malicious harassment, stalking or telephone harassment may file for a protection order and an ex parte temporary protection order.
- S1389 Allows persons who are not otherwise disqualified to carry concealed weapons without a license.
- SCR 151 Authorizes the Legislature to appoint a legislative interim committee to study the issue of fairness in administrative appeals to state agencies.
- H 379a Establishes the Computer Science Initiative for Public Schools and requires the STEM Action Center Board, the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education to collaborate to develop and implement the initiative.
- H 451 Requires public school districts to offer a Reading Intervention Program to each kindergarten through grade 3 student who exhibits a reading deficiency on the statewide reading assessment. The program includes reading improvement plans, a process for parent notification, annual reporting by school districts and by the State Department of Education and technical assistance to aid school districts in implementing the program. The purpose of the reading intervention program is to ensure that students are reading at or above grade level by the end of grade 3.
- H 477aaa Provides for a Postsecondary Credit Scholarship for students who earn a minimum number of college credits while in high school. The scholarship award is to be used for tuition and fees at any eligible Idaho postsecondary educational institution.
- H 512 Provides for Community College Trustee Zones within a community college district and requires trustee representation in each zone.
- H 570 Establishes the Local Innovation School Act that allows a certain number of public schools to become innovation schools by entering into an agreement that exempts the schools from the governance of certain Idaho Code statutes, rules promulgated by the State Board of Education and local district policies.
- HCR 33 Authorizes the Legislative Council to appoint a committee to undertake and complete a study of the public school funding formula and to make recommendations. The committee will evaluate the existing formula to assess how it meets the needs of different learning modalities, serves Idaho students and provides fiscal stability to public school districts and public charter schools.
- S1293a Affirms parental rights in education by defining the reasonable accommodations to be offered to parents and guardians, by requiring school districts and public charter schools to facilitate parental involvement in the education of their children and by providing a process by which parents may withdraw their children from an activity, class or program in which objectionable material is used.
- S1333 Creates the Broadband Infrastructure Improvement Grant Fund (BIIG) for the purpose of investing in special construction projects for high-speed broadband connections to Idaho public schools and other E-rate eligible entities. Qualifying entities can apply for BIIG Fund moneys up to ten percent of the project costs and, based on the state funding commitment, school districts will receive additional federal E-rate funding for the project.
- S1334 Repeals the Idaho Education Network and establishes the Education Opportunity Resource Act to provide broadband and related resources for Idaho’s education and library systems through the cooperative efforts of the Education Opportunity Resource Committee and the State Department of Education.
- S1342a Permits the use of religious texts, including the Bible, in public schools for reference purposes to further the study of enumerated topics where an understanding of religious texts may be useful or relevant; however, religious or doctrinal instruction is not permitted. The bill specifies that no student will be required to use any religious text for reference purposes if the student or the student’s parents object.
- H 372 Prohibits any local prohibitions, regulation or taxation of auxiliary containers, such as bags or boxes or Styrofoam containers used by restaurants and retail establishments.
- H 463 Prohibits political subdivisions from establishing a minimum wage that is higher than the minimum wage provided by state law.
- H 491a Prohibits nonconsensual common law liens, which are liens that have no express legal basis.
- H 538 Re-codifies the state purchasing laws into a new State Procurement Act and enacts new requirements relating to contract oversight, procurement training, and ethics.
- H 541 Creates an exception to local government purchasing laws for contracts entered into by the State Division of Purchasing.
- S1360 Requires that state agencies proposing changes to materials incorporated by reference in administrative rules must provide a synopsis of those changes.
Health and Human Services:
- H 516 Amends existing law to provide that the Department of Health and Welfare shall compile a list of providers that perform free ultrasounds, and shall state that a patient has the right to obtain a free ultrasound, view an ultrasound image and hear heart tone monitoring, and to provide that no abortion shall be performed unless the woman is informed that ultrasound imaging and heart tone monitoring are available.
- H 554 Creates a presumption that cancers suffered by firefighters are occupational diseases if certain conditions are met.
- S1253 Requires child caregivers to exercise a certain standard of care.
- S1237 Provides the Department of Environmental Quality with additional flexibility allowed under Clean Water Act regulations to take factors such as department resources and data quality, in addition to severity of pollution and uses of water bodies, into consideration when prioritizing total maximum daily loads of water bodies.
- S1239 Provides requisite statutory provisions for Idaho to submit an application to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting authorization to implement a state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. In 2014, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was statutorily directed to submit an application to the EPA by September 1, 2016. The program will be known as the Idaho National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program, and this bill establishes the process for appealing IPDES permits issued by DEQ and provides DEQ with necessary minimum enforcement authorities. S1260a Provides requisite statutory provisions for Idaho to submit an application to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting authorization to implement a state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. In 2014, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was statutorily directed to submit an application to the EPA by September 1, 2016. The program will be known as the Idaho National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program, and this bill ensures DEQ has the authorities required by the EPA for IPDES regulation of dairy and beef cattle operations.
- H 345 Provides an appeals process for a taxpayer when an assessor has determined that a property no longer meets the criteria of forest land.
- H 425 Updates references to the current Internal Revenue Code and adds language regarding marriages recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.
- H 431 Sets the homeowner property tax exemption at $100,000 and removes cost of living adjustments to the exemption amount.
- H 513aa, aaS Provides that the state shall meet the requirements for driver’s licenses and identification cards as set forth in the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, as such requirements existed on January 1, 2016.