The time is getting short and the tempers are starting to flare. We have been here long enough and it is time to rap up the session. We have run into a snag in the House. Wednesday we had four members out with Covid 19, and one member is home in isolation because of close contact. The House Education committee is meeting with a temporary Chairman because both the Chairman and Vice Chairman are out with Covid 19. We have feared an outbreak of Covid -19 since we arrived in town, and we are so close of finishing up but now this virus has become a problem. Late Thursday afternoon, we received word that five more House members and staff have tested positive for the Covid virus. This time the House Judiciary and Rules Committee is affected. There are so many people who have been exposed and identified through contact tracing that the leadership of the House and Senate have decided to shut down the Legislature for a two-week period to allow the virus to run its course within the two bodies. It is my hope everyone recovers and can return in two weeks to help finish up the session.
We are working on passing appropriation budgets and most are passing without much opposition. All of the agencies must have budgets before we can adjourn. The sales tax exemption bill that Sen. Harris and I ran was amended in the Senate. The Amendments were suggested by the tax commission. They will help make it a better bill. I have recommended that the House concur with the Senate amendments so I am confident that we will get the bill passed and the Governor will sign the bill.
The cloud seeding bill that I have been working on is going to the floor of the Senate and believe that they will pass that bill. I am hopeful that we can get some cloud seeding in the Bear River Basin by November of this year. This and the tax bill were projects that I started before we arrived in Boise.
The House has had two bills this week that are considered going home bills. The first one is a transportation bill, H 342, is a bill that takes some general fund money and allows the Dept, of Transportation to leverage that money and make funds available to the local cities and counties for transportation infrastructure. That bill passed with only four no votes. The second bill is H 332 and is a tax relief bill. This bill passed on a party line vote 58-12. There will be $389 million of tax cuts. This will result in a one-time rebate of $220 million to people who paid taxes in 2019. There is also an on-going tax relief of $169 million by lowering all of the rates of income tax and corporate income tax.
I believe that this will be a first for shutting the legislative session down before the work is finished. Leadership has expressed that we are going to come back to finish the work we have started but that no new legislation will be introduced. We will wait to see if that holds true.
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