2013 Legislative Report, Week 10

After seven hours of debate House Bill 248 passed from the House of Representatives on a vote of 41-29. Only one Democrat debated, so essentially it was Republican vs. Republican debating. The 13 Democrats made the difference on the passage of this bill for a State Health Insurance Exchange. Speaker Bedke did a good job with his fairness for both sides. Thank you for all on both sides who sent me your opinion.

In Revenue and Taxation Committee on Friday, March 15, House Bill 286 was passed to receive tax credits up to ten million for scholarships to private schools. This bill has come up in previous years and failed. The Idaho School Administrators and School Boards opposed this bill. I understand there will be a new personal property tax bill introduced next week, but it won’t be until Tuesday or Wednesday because this committee is not meeting Monday. I encourage you to investigate any new bills on personal property tax elimination and send your comments first to members of that committee, then to the rest of the House members. I am hoping a compromise will happen to hold harmless local government and school districts, while helping small business with personal property tax elimination.

The Comprehensive State Water Plan, House Bill 38, is on the third reading so should be heard sometime this coming week. This plan was adopted by the Idaho Water Resources Board in November of 2012, which Roger Chase serves as Chairman. There was a last minute effort by some legislators in House Resources & Conservation Committee to change this water plan, but it failed.

There are several education bills, many which are parts of Proposition 1, which are being debated in the Legislature. Senate Bill 1089 passed the House this week by a vote of 54-15-1 which repeals early retirement incentives for teachers. A couple of retired educators, who are now legislators, did explain that it varied from $4 to 11 million in program savings each year. The bill now goes to the Governor.

Recently I contacted the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader to call their attention to Senate bill 1100 Health Care Ministries. There was an Idaho Supreme Court ruling the end of February which declares health care ministries are not insurance entities. It will be interesting to see if we will still hear this bill because it is law now.

So far this session, I have voted yes on 4 gun bills and 1 knife bill, but I could not vote for House Bill 219 because it pitted U.S. Marshalls against local law enforcement. Before I debated and voted on the bill I did receive an Attorney General’s opinion and talked with the Bannock County Sheriff.

Thank you to all who have contacted me urging me to vote no on Senate Bill 1117 on the overweight/oversize big trucks. This week the House Transportation Committee had a marathon meeting on this bill, but they have not voted yet on the issue.

Also, thanks to all who have contacted me about House Concurrent Resolutions 21 and 22 about your opinion on transfer of federal lands to Idaho to manage. This could impact up to 33 million acres in Idaho. Currently the goal of the House and Senate leadership is to end the Legislative Session on March 29th. We shall see if we make that date.

To contact me by e-mail is esmith@house.idaho.gov or call the toll free number of 1-800-626-0471. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve in the House of Representatives.


Elaine Smith
State Representative
District 29