Highlights from 03-06-2013
Sponsor pulls bill restricting access
Idaho Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna said Wednesday that House Bill 207 has been withdrawn. A hearing scheduled for Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee has been canceled, Luna said.
The measure was prompted by public records requests for more than 90 hours of Capitol security video by Bryan Carter of Meridian, whose behavior on a January video prompted temporary restrictions in access to the House and Senate chambers. Carter, who was armed with a pistol, photographed legislators' desks, inspected their paperwork and reached into a trash can.
Buckner-Webb is Mother of the Year
Senate Minority Caucus Chairwoman Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, was honored Wednesday as the recipient of the annual award from American Mothers Inc.
Buckner-Webb has been married to the Rev. Henry Webb for 25 years, has two grown sons and one granddaughter. She is the founder and principal of Sojourner Coaching that works with business, education and community organizations.
TEEN TANNING BILL
Lobbyist removes criminal penalties
A bill banning kids younger than 16 from tanning booths and requiring in-person parental consent for 16- and 17-year-olds was abruptly withdrawn before a scheduled public hearing Wednesday.
The change in House Bill 191 was simple: The criminal penalty was excised. Civil fines remain, at $100 for the first offense, $300 for a second offense within a year and $500 for subsequent offenses.
Ken McClure, the veteran lobbyist for the Idaho Hospital Association, apologized to the committee and citizens who had expected a full hearing on HB 191.
Facing an 11-member committee with five freshmen, McClure explained, "I'm having difficulty reading this body this year. Things that I thought I understood, I obviously don't understand. It's taken a little bit more time to understand what it is you folks would like to see from us."
A new bill was printed on a voice vote.
Bill lets agencies authorize schools
A measure giving organizations like public universities and nonprofits power to open charter schools passed the House 48-19 Wednesday.
The bill governs how outside groups would be supervised if they move to open alternative schools. It also creates contractual benchmarks for charter schools.
Proponents argued opening charter schools offers more school choice to Idaho families. Moscow Democrat Rep. Shirley Ringo said the measure could result in waves of new schools.
Senate OKs plan to allow more trucks
Wednesday's 22-13 vote came after spirited debate focusing on safety of big trucks, on winding northern Idaho forest roadways.
The plan to allow big trucks on more miles of Idaho roads, pushed by the Idaho Forest Group, lowers shipping costs and boosts the economy, now heads to the House.
Since 2003, Idaho has allowed 129,000-pound trucks on select southern routes.
With this, big trucks would be allowed on more of the state's roads, provided local highway districts agree.
BUSINESS TAX REPEAL
House considers competing measures
One measure is backed by counties and one by industry.
Rep. Gary Collins, House Revenue and Taxation Committee chairman, said Tuesday he'll schedule hearings Thursday or Friday.
The Idaho Association of Counties bill would eliminate the tax on business equipment for 89 percent of businesses in Idaho.
It mirrors a 2008 law that's yet to take effect and would cost the state $19 million to replace tax revenue that now flows to counties.
The more ambitious bill comes from the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, which would cost $120 million.
Committee backs boost for task force
Police officers afraid that Idaho will become a safe haven for child pornographers helped convince the Senate State Affairs to support $2 million measure to fight cybercrime.
Initially, the Idaho attorney general's office would use money recovered in consumer protection cases to fund the startup of the expanded Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The two-person task force would be boosted to 14 investigators to tackle complex cases where sophisticated computer skills are necessary to catch people producing, trading and consuming child pornography.
House approves consolidation bill
A bill approved by the House on Wednesday on a 43-24 vote eliminates a merit-based scholarship and a program for minorities.
Money from those awards instead would be deposited into the Opportunity Scholarship.
Twin Falls Republican Rep. Lance Clow said the changes help streamline programs without reducing funding.
The proposal also makes more need-based aid available to disadvantaged students and repeals a loan forgiveness program for teachers and nurses.
The measure now goes to the governor.