Senator Mark Harris

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Last week, Chairman Gibbs and I had the opportunity to participate in the “Readers are Leaders” program at Thirkill Elementary School in Soda Springs. We zoomed with three fourth grade classes as they were celebrating “kindness” week. We were able to read a book with them and answer some questions about what we do in Boise and what role kindness plays in our duties here. It was fun to use Zoom technology to see and interact with the kids and the teachers.

As the 6th week of the Legislative Session comes to an end, the first batch of Senate Pages will be graduating, and the second group will begin their 6-weeks working in the Legislature. The Senate Page Program is a paid 6-week service opportunity only for high school seniors between the ages of 17 and 19. Interested students can apply in the summer and fall for placement in the next Legislative Session. (More information can be found on: https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/senate/page_program.pdf)

I had the honor of sponsoring Hannah Stephenson from Preston as a Senate Page this session. She was assigned to the Senate Education Committee, which is one of the busiest committees in the Senate. She worked hard and represented the Idaho Senate, her school, her community, and her family very well. It was a pleasure having her here serving in the Senate.

Senator Guthrie (Legislative District 28) introduced and we passed Senate Bill 1068 (S1068). S1068 sets a hard and fast ending date of the last Friday in March for a Regular Legislative Session. The exceptions to this ending date, or Sine Die, is if we have to stay for a possible veto of a bill by the Governor, if there is an emergency of some sort, or, if by a two-thirds vote of both houses, we decide to extend the ending date. If this bill becomes law, it will help make the Legislature more efficient and more disciplined in our proposed legislation. We are waiting to see what the House does with this bill.

A tax bill that would lower the sales tax from 6% to 5.3% was introduced this week in the House. The bill does not remove sales tax on groceries, and it does away with the grocery tax credit. It is estimated that Idaho taxpayers will see around $250 million in tax relief from this proposal.

Finally, this week in the Senate State Affairs Committee, we approved House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1) which is a proposed Constitutional Amendment from the House that would allow the Legislature to be able to call itself into special session. This would happen through a petition process that would require 60% of both Senate and House Members to agree to call themselves into a special session. Currently, the Idaho Constitution only allows the Governor to be able to call a special session. HJR1 will require a two–thirds majority vote in the Senate for it to pass. This resolution has already passed the House. If approved by the Senate, the voters of Idaho would have the final say when they vote at the next General Election in 2022.

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