Committee OKs bill to restore money
House lawmakers took a critical step Thursday toward giving Idaho schools $30 million this year.
The House Education Committee unanimously approved putting back money that was lost when voters repealed the 2011 Students Come First laws last fall. Rejection of those laws translated to a mid-year funding cut to schools, even though districts were counting on that money to make ends meet this year.
Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said the bill includes money for students taking college courses and about $4 million needed to pay for new math and science teachers hired at the start of the school year.
The bill now goes to the full House for debate.
The Associated Press
PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX
After long wait, Otter offers draft
Gov. Butch Otter released it Thursday so that counties, cities, schools, business groups and lawmakers could review it.
Otter's plan would eliminate the $140 million tax on business equipment over six years.
Under the proposal, Idaho's taxpayer-supported general fund would replace some of the money that cities, counties and other local governments stand to lose under the repeal. Local governments could replace the rest, by shifting the burden to real property.
The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry has been working for repeal, to help members including Idaho Power Co. and Micron Technology Inc. that contend the tax is unfair.
The Associated Press
Opposition kills bill in House committee
A bill giving Idaho voters more power over urban renewal projects was rejected Thursday on a 9-4 vote.
It would have given citizens a say over certain land redevelopment plans, a power currently reserved for city councils and zoning commissions.
The proposal received opposition from Democrats, Republicans and several groups that said many local elections only occur annually, so the timeline for approving new projects would be lengthy. Lobbyist Ken McClure said uncertainty that comes along with ballot measures could also discourage businesses from participating in redevelopments.
Otter has started fundraising
Last Friday, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter told reporters he was preparing to seek a third term next year, including raising money. What he neglected to mention was that his campaign was hosting an "Idaho Code of the West BBQ" the very next day in the Turf Bar & Grill at Les Bois Park.
The event featured famed Western photographer David Stoecklein and Jim Owen, author and founder of the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership.
Tickets were modestly priced for such a dinner, $75 per person and $125 per couple. Prime sponsors were Intermountain Gas, Eli Lilly and Agri Beef. Choice sponsors were Coeur d'Alene Racing and Moneytree. Select sponsors were Watkins Distributing, Hayden Distributing, Idaho Distributing Co., Stein Distributing, lobbyist Jerry Deckard and Speaker Scott Bedke.
EMPLOYEE TAX CREDITS
House approves hiring incentives
Under the proposal passed Thursday, 62-7, companies that generate new jobs would receive a benefit for each new hire. They would get a $1,000 bonus if they fill a new position with a veteran.
Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, said the tax credit would cost Idaho approximately $10.4 million next year.
Moyle said the measure gives Idaho an incentive to attract new companies. He said the state also would collect revenue in the short-term when new workers pay sales tax on goods they buy.
Legislators who opposed the bill said it's not the job of the state to pick winners and losers.
The Associated Press
Hearings set for next week
The Senate State Affairs Committee will hold the meetings Wednesday morning. Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, is trying something new: He's letting people sign up in advance to testify.
The hearings are at 8 a.m. in the Capitol Auditorium.
SCR 112 would state the Legislature's opposition to legalizing marijuana for any purpose. SJM 101 is a nonbinding measure calling on the federal government to enforce federal anti-drug laws in all states, including those states, like Washington, that legalized marijuana.
Betsy Z. Russell, Spokesman-Review