Two education issues have gained a lot of organized push this past week. First is the language of the science testing standards. I have had more email on this issue than anything else in my first 5 weeks combined! At issue is the language of 5 temporary rules out of over 350. They revolve around “Climate Change” and “Global Warming”. The House denied their adoption. If they are denied in the Senate, they will be rewritten and voted on next year. Even if they are adopted by the Senate, they will be voted on again next year before they are final.
The other issue is the help the state is considering giving to the school districts for the costs of health insurance. Fundamentally, the state gives the school districts $160 million in discretionary funding, part of which will be spent on health care. With S1096, the districts will get another $20 million, earmarked for health care only. There is a lot of interest in this bill!
Education will be decided early in the session, rather than later. The education budget will be considered first in JFAC and funded, then everything else after that.
Tax Cuts, Permitting Fees, and Public Funding
Tax cuts are still on the table. The two bills I have seen will total a little over $100,000,000 in tax relief. There is money to do this and fund education. However, Mother Nature is picking on our roads and highways pretty severely this year. There is a significant push to fund highway maintenance at a higher level.
Owners of plug-in and hybrid cars got a $1,000,000 tax break this week. It was the feeling of the Legislature that owners of these cars were getting charged too much on their registration fees to make up for what they weren’t paying at the pump. The passage of the new bill is an effort to reconcile that.
Ag equipment dealers no longer have to purchase permits to run equipment to and from farmers/ranchers property. This irritating little requirement was costing $54,000 per year and provided no safety or any other benefit to the people paying for the permit.
Representative Maxine Bell and I were asked to speak to the state meeting of the Idaho Farm Bureau this week. It is always so good to visit with people who are connected so directly to the land. They are special to me. Representative Bell and I discussed JFAC issues with the group for about 45 minutes. In case you don’t know Maxine Bell, who is from Twin Falls, she is reported to be 85 years young, with more energy and savvy than you can find anywhere. She is a legend!
I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have specific interest on bills, please let me know and I will run them down for you. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,