2013 Legislative Report, Week 2

Week 2 (January 14-18) at the Legislature

District 29 legislators will be holding a town hall meeting on Saturday, January 26, at 10 a.m. at Pocatello City Hall Council Chamber.  The three legislators are looking forward to hearing about  your opinions.

Twenty six bills in the House have been printed so far, so you can go to www.legislature.idaho.gov on the internet to see the topics of the bills and which committees where they will be discussed.   When you go to the website you can see which bills are starting in the House or in the Senate.  Also, you can communicate with any of the 105 legislators.

Here is an update on some agency rules that affect some state property.  In the House State Affairs sub-committee, I made the motion that we refer the Dept. of Administration rules to the entire committee for a public hearing because of First Amendment concerns, with the motion passing.  The Senate State Affairs committee rejected certain sections of the rules because of freedom of speech concerns for the State Capitol grounds and surrounding areas.  These rules were brought forth because of legislation passed in 2012 due to camping by Occupy Boise.

Tax 101 class by the State Tax Commission was held on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for all legislators.  The first day we received information on the Tax Commission overview, multistate, product and fuel taxes, and property taxes.  The next day income tax, sales tax and the issues on streamlined sales tax were discussed.  Twenty four states have adopted streamlined sales tax agreements, but Idaho is not one of those states.  We were informed that 1400 retailers have voluntarily collected over $700 million in sales tax for those 24 states.  It is estimated that Idaho in 2012 lost $51.5 million.  Since personal property tax elimination is one of the major issues of this session, I appreciated the detailed information from our state tax commission.

The Ag All Star dinner for 2012 legislators was held at the beginning of the week.  There were only 4 Democrats of 64 honorees, but Senator Lacey and I were part of this group with our votes on agricultural issues in the 2012 session.  The Legislative Sportsmen Caucus held a chili feed for all legislators with the Fish & Game Commissioners and the Department staff before the Commissioners held a public hearing.  Of course, Randy Budge, Southeast Idaho Commissioner, was present.

PNWER (Pacific Northwest Economic Region) Day  in Boise occurred this week.  I am the official Democrat delegate from the Idaho House of Representatives to these meetings. This organization comprises of 5 Pacific Northwest states and three Canadian provinces and 2 territories as members.  Last summer I went to Saskatchewan and will be attending the annual conference in Alaska for state legislators, other government officials, and businesses.  Some of the issues at the conference are on transportation, cross-border security, invasive species, energy, agriculture, and health care.