It has been a very busy couple of weeks as House Bills 385 and 387 (H385, H 387) passed the House and were transmitted to the Senate for final passage. H 385 is the appropriation bill that funds the teachers in our state. This bill provides funding for K-12 teachers and programs specific to certified instructors in Idaho’s public and charter schools. Our teachers are a very important part of our communities and we appreciate them. H387 is the appropriation bill for Idaho’s universities. Both these bills passed the Senate and were sent to the Governor.
The Senate debated and passed House bill 362 (H362) the transportation bill. This bill uses 4.5% of sales tax revenue to provide $80 million a year for roads. Any funds above the $80 million per year would go to counties and cities for their transportation needs. It also provides $1.6 billion in bonding for infrastructure needs.
The Senate also debated and passed two tax bills. House Bill 380 (H380) which is an income tax relief bill that give $220 million in one-time tax relief and $160 million for ongoing tax relief. House bill 389 (H389) is a property tax bill that increases the homeowner’s exemption to $125,000, caps the new construction at 8% in any budget year and increases the exemption for personal property tax to $250,000. I did not vote in favor of this bill because of the cap on new construction and the potential shift in taxes to other areas. There are a lot of things in this bill and it was brought too late in the session to be fully vetted. I feel we need property tax relief, but this bill needed a little more work. All these bills passed and were sent to the Governor.
We also finished up with some rewrites of both Senate and House versions of the emergency powers bills. Both Senate Bill 1136 (S1136) and House Bill 135 (H135) were vetoed by the Governor. The Senate rewrote S1135 into Senate Bill 1217, which deals with martial law and extreme emergency declarations. The House leadership split up House Bill 135 into 3 different bills, H391, H392 and H393. These three bills deal with emergency declarations. All four of these bills clarify and place limits of the authority of the Governor during times of extreme emergencies and emergency disaster declarations. All these bills were debated and passed by the Senate and sent to the Governor who signed them into law.
The Senate voted to adjourn Sine Die at 11:00 pm on Wednesday May 12. This Legislative session has been eventful and record breaking, to date it is now the longest session in Idaho History. It is a privilege and honor to serve the good people of Legislative District 32. I would like you to know I do my best to carefully consider every issue before I vote in order to best represent the interests of our Legislative District and State. This is a charge I take very seriously. Again, thank you for your support. It is great to be back home, as always, you can contact me with your concerns.