2017 Summary Legislative Report
Again, thank you for helping me serve you in the Idaho Legislature for another year. 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 at www.tomdayleyrep21b.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important issues in the 2017 Legislative Session:
Public education, transportation and tax relief were among the primary issues addressed by the First Regular Session of the Sixty-fourth Idaho Legislature starting January 9, 2017. Increased revenue projections of +4.6% for fiscal year (FY) 2018 represent the seventh consecutive year of economic growth after a +5.4% estimate for FY 2017.
Idaho public education funding increased the third consecutive year. The K-12 budget increased 6.3%; additional $61.9 million for the third year of the career ladder; community college increased by 6.7%; and the 4-year colleges and universities increase was 2.7%.
Regarding transportation, the Legislature addressed both long-term projects and damage to infrastructure caused by the harsh winter of 2016/2017. This included authorizing up to $300 million in bonds (GARVEE bonds) to finance projects in critical transportation corridors. Also, approximately $15.2 million in sales tax revenue was provided for a new Transportation Expansion & Congestion Mitigation program to address state and local projects. Finally, the Legislature authorized the continuation of the transportation Strategic Initiatives Program (to 2019), providing funding for projects across the state.
In terms of Tax Relief, several tax relief measures were considered, but the bill that did pass repealed the sales tax on groceries. This legislation also increased the revenue-sharing provision in the sales tax distribution to local government. However, the governor vetoed this measure on April 11, 2017. A request has been filed with the Idaho Supreme Court asking to invalidate the veto based on the date of the veto.
Legislation during the 2017 session included 785 drafts, 540 of which were introduced as bills along with 75 resolutions. By the end of the session, 347 bills passed, 339 became law and eight were vetoed.
Reviewing rules written by state agencies is one very important legislative task because these administrative actions have the force of law. Pending rules do not go into effect, and final rules do not remain in effect if they are rejected by the Legislature. This gives the people one more chance to impact the government.
There were 190 rule-making dockets, totaling 1,416 pages, reviewed during the 2017 legislative session. This compares to 174 dockets during 2016 and 194 during 2015. This year, nine of the 164 pending rule dockets reviewed were rejected entirely or in part.
Other notable legislative actions were to: revise the duties of the Oil and Gas Commission and based on the Joint Employee Compensation Committee recommendation, give a 3% merit increase to state employees.
The following is a summary list of selected actions that successfully made their way through the legislative process in the 2017 Legislature. A one-page budget comparison is also included on the last page. Please review these figures and give me your ideas regarding how your tax dollars are being spent.
Agriculture: H 274aaS addressed issues relating to invasive species to prevent the introduction of species such as quagga mussels into Idaho. VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR
Business and Economic Development: H 315 authorizes the Idaho State Building Authority to purchase the Boise Hewlett Packard Campus for housing current and future Idaho State Agencies-LAW.
Criminal Justice and Public Safety: H 93 allowed current members of the U.S. armed forces to carry a concealed handgun in Idaho-LAW. S 1088 requires registered sex offenders to submit DNA samples for the DNA database-LAW. H 202aaS amended existing law regarding property and conditions for civil forfeiture. VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR
Education: More than 23 education bills were passed plus the appropriation bills including: H 185 increases the annual individual state income tax deduction for contributions to a college savings program-LAW. S 1123 restores transportation funding for field trips authorized by a school board-LAW.
General Government: H 97 clarifies that attorney’s fees in civil actions may be awarded when the judge finds the case was brought frivolously, unreasonably or without foundation. This adjusts a recent Idaho Supreme Court decision-LAW. H 145aaS revised the definition of “employer covered under PERSI”-LAW. S 1108 increases judge salary-LAW.
Health and Human Services: H 191 allows pharmacists to prescribe drugs and devices when the patient’s condition is minor, does not require a new diagnosis, or threatens the health or safety of the patient-LAW. H 195 established standards and educational requirements for chiropractic physicians to be certified in clinical nutrition-LAW. H 212 allows psychologists who meet certain educational and clinical experience requirements to obtain a certificate to prescribed drugs or controlled substances to their patients-LAW.
Taxation: H 67aaS, aaS amended, repealed and added to existing law to provide a sales and use tax exemption for food sold for human consumption (groceries); repealed the grocery tax credit; and revised a distribution relating to revenue sharing to local units of government. VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR
Other issues worked on this year: Increase funding for special needs K-12 students; Treasure Valley water quality project funding; Transparency for insurance company executive salaries; Improving health care for Idahoans; city annexation policy; districts for city council members; U.S. Regulation Freedom amendment; U.S. balanced budget amendment.
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 web site: www.legislature.idaho.gov