The Legislatures top leaders are pressing to adjourn on Good Friday.
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told his committee chairs Thursday to turn off the taps to new legislation.
This coming week, well start shutting down introduction of new (bills), Hill said Friday. Now, shut down is a harsh term there will be exceptions but they should start discouraging people.
House Speaker Scott Bedke will deliver the same message Monday in his chat with committee chairs, including majority and minority leadership.
I want to be finished by the end of the month, unless theres a really good reason not to, Bedke said Friday after the House recessed for the weekend. I will advise the chairmen that, with very few exceptions from that point on, any bill will be done in Ways & Means (the committee controlled by party leaders). Were trying to shut the process down.
Bedke then turned to House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, and said, I just want to keep my eye on things.
Rusche said he sees no impediment to a Good Friday adjournment.
A high hurdle was cleared Friday when the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee set its final budget. Typically, it takes the Legislature two weeks after JFAC finishes to pass spending bills.
I dont want to see any of you working in this building this weekend, said a cheerfully scolding House Appropriations Committee Chairman Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, to her 20-member panel.
JFACs work gives leaders a one-week cushion to deal with the two major unresolved matters: Gov. Butch Otters state-run health insurance exchange bill and competing plans to reform personal property taxes on business equipment.
Bedke plans a House vote on the exchange bill Wednesday. House Health & Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood buoyed by Thursdays 10-1 committee endorsement of Otters House Bill 248 predicted a solid margin on the House floor, 42-28.
The Senate could slow things down. It took six hours of debate last month before the Senate passed its version of the health exchange, 23-12. The House version will likely reach the Senate floor late in the week of March 17 or early the following week.
Hill appears less than eager for another six hours of debate on a bill expected to pass comfortably.
Ive considered just asking each senator to get the video of the last six hours if they want to go through it again and listen to it prior to the floor debate, Hill said, smiling.
That leaves the dueling personal property tax bills: one by the Idaho Association of Counties with a $19 million price tag; and one by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, at $120 million. The counties would exempt up to $100,000 in business property, covering about 90 percent of businesses; IACI would phase in a full exemption by 2020.
House Revenue & Taxation Chairman Gary Collins set the public hearing on both bills for Tuesday, after his committee introduced the IACI bill Friday. He hasnt said when the panel will vote. We might leave it for a few days and let it brew, said Collins, R-Nampa. My committee seems to like something in each bill.
Collins said a personal property tax deal may be the going home bill of 2013, as it was in 2008 when a unanimous Legislature approved a bill very similar to the counties new measure on the final day, April 2.
If all goes well, Collins and his colleagues will be home in time to color Easter eggs with their loved ones.
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics