Highlights from 03-15-2013
Committee OKs tax credit bill
Tax credits to people who donate to private and religious school scholarships will promote school choice for people who don't think the traditional public classroom is right for their kids, backers say.
The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 12-4 to offer tax credits - a sum deducted from the total a taxpayer owes the state - on money people and companies direct to scholarship funds that benefit students attending private schools.
The House will now debate the measure.
The bill would provide tax credits worth up to $10 million each year, enough for scholarships for about 3,000 students annually. Coeur d'Alene Republican Sen. Bob Nonini, the sponsor, said the bill could actually save Idaho money in the long run by reducing public school enrollment and Idaho's per-student funding obligation.
House clears way for open talks
The House voted 61-0 Friday to makes collective bargaining talks public and require school districts to post notices of all upcoming negotiating sessions.
The bill would also make all meeting minutes and contract offers subject to state open records laws.
The Idaho Education Association teachers union and the Idaho School Board Association support for idea of open talks.
The bill already passed the Senate and now heads to the governor's desk.
Drone privacy bill could be amended
Legislation intended to protect Idahoans' privacy by restricting how law enforcement uses drones is headed to the Senate for possible changes.
The bill initially established clear legal guidelines when law enforcement could use unmanned aircraft in criminal investigations. Its Republican sponsor Sen. Chuck Winder of Boise says amendments that could be coming in the Senate might add more flexibility for state and local police.
After the Senate State Affairs Committee discussed the bill Friday, Winder said he would explore adding language to exempt restrictions on search and rescue teams and law enforcement during lawful searches.
The original version allowed police to use drones without warrants in marijuana eradication cases.
Winder said the new language would allow unmanned aircraft to be used for other reasons, like hostage or school intruder emergencies.
Panel OKs bill for enhanced permits
The legislation approved by the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday would bolster state standards and create a voluntary "enhanced" permit that likely would be eligible in more states.
Obtaining a concealed carry permit is relatively easy in Idaho. But many states don't recognize the Idaho's permits.
The new permit requires an eight-hour class and live-fire training. It would likely be recognized in three dozen states.
Legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Pete Nielsen of Mountain Home to allow concealed 4-inch knives without a permit also passed the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday.
Both bills have passed the House and now head to the Senate floor.
Tax repeal bills in holding pattern
There were a few murmurs on the House floor early Friday afternoon, when Revenue and Taxation Committee Chairman Gary Collins told colleagues that his panel would not meet Monday morning.
No meeting means no movement on the personal property tax repeal - one of the contentious issues still looming over the 2013 legislative session.
"We will have a vote before the committee. But it won't be before Tuesday or Wednesday of next week," Collins, R-Nampa, told Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
But Collins didn't say what bills the committee might hear.
Will it be House Bill 272, the $18 million to $19 million partial repeal, supported by the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of School Administrators?
Will it be House Bill 276, the $120 million full repeal the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry wants?
Or, will it be some third bill that hasn't yet surfaced?
Kevin Richert, Idaho Education News