Committee considers new release dates
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted Thursday to revisit the idea of spreading the release of food stamps across several days each month. It will consider a bill that would release food stamp vouchers on as many as 10 days each month.
For years, the state has issued food stamp cards on the first day of the month. Grocery executives and customers complain because shoppers who get the benefit jam stores, clear out inventory and cause supply-chain headaches.
A similar bill passed the House last year, but never cleared the Senate committee.
The bill has the support of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Northwest Grocers Association, which includes some of the biggest grocery stores in the state.
The Associated Press
Study: Wages lag those in private sector
Almost all Idaho state employees are paid less than a competitive market wage, and low pay is the main factor in employee turnover, according to a new report on the states compensation policies.
The Office of Performance Evaluation report found that 90 percent of classified state employees are paid less than the policy rate for their pay grade. The policy rate is intended to be competitive with hourly market rates for comparable public and private sector jobs.
Of the 90 percent, the report found 45 percent are paid at least 20 percent below policy level. The results did not include public school employees or nonclassified employees such as elected officials.
Low pay, followed by lack of advancement opportunities, were the top two reasons people cited in their decision to leave state service.
The Division of Human Resources said a compensation survey found that state retirement and health care benefits are at least as good, if not better, than those offered by most private sector employers.
William L. Spence, Lewiston Tribune
House moves toward permanent panel
The House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution to create a standing ethics committee and make other revisions. It now moves to the full House for a vote.
Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, questioned why the new five-member standing committee would have three members from the majority and two from the minority, with a four-fifths vote required.
The four-fifths is actually a protection for the minority party, so that the majority party cannot railroad something through affecting the minority party, said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise.
No member could serve on the ethics committee if they had previously been sanctioned by the House for an ethical violation. If a complaint is filed against a member of the committee, an alternative would step in for that member.
Betsy Russell, Spokesman-Review
Senate to debate limits on unmanned planes
The Senate Transportation Committee introduced a bill Thursday that would establish clear legal guidelines for when Idaho law enforcement agencies could use drones unmanned aircraft to gather evidence in criminal cases. The bill would require police to establish probable cause or obtain a warrant before using drones in an investigation.
The Associated Press