House protests Senate with bills
In a procedural move Tuesday, House Republicans gutted a Senate-passed bill requiring school districts to meet with sheriffs to craft security plans.
In its place, they inserted two bills that have passed the House but haven't won a hearing in the Senate.
One seeks to strengthen Idaho prohibitions on federal regulation of Idaho-made weapons that never leave the state. The other would charge Idaho state and local law enforcement officials with a crime for helping federal agents confiscate federally banned weapons.
Senate State Affairs Committee Chairman Curt McKenzie said last week that there wasn't enough time to hear the House-passed measures. All three bills now look doomed to fail.
Democrats: Idaho must act this year
The minority party is demanding that Republicans schedule debate on a bill this session, saying the state risks squandering an opportunity to save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and bring $1.1 billion into the state.
House Minority Leader John Rusche joined Sen. Dan Schmidt in issuing an open letter urging Republicans to "find courage to stand up to their activists' narrow, but vocal opposition."
President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overhaul foresaw expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people. The U.S. Supreme Court left it up to states to decide.
GOP Rep. Tom Loertscher, of Iona, introduced a measure to expand Medicaid, arguing that it makes financial sense. However, Republican leaders say there's not enough time left in the session to tackle the issue.
INTERNET SALES TAX
Committee kills plan - once again
Tuesday's proposal for Idaho to join a national effort to collect sales taxes on Internet commerce didn't even win introduction in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, marking the sixth straight year such a measure has died.
This bill foresaw Idaho joining states to streamline sales-tax-collection rules, to prepare for the day when Congress addresses a Supreme Court decision on the taxes.
Proponents say Idaho's Main Street businesses that charge sales taxes are being disadvantaged as more commerce moves online.
Foes contend that this is another way for greedy government to collect more revenue.
Senate committee dumps tax credits
The Local Government and Taxation Committee voted 7-2 against a plan from Sen. Bob Nonini to extend a tax break to people who donate to scholarships to defray the cost of private school tuition.
Individual donors could cut their tax liability to zero, while corporations could cut their liability in half.
Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg dismissed the idea as "just not fair."
Bill to fix abortion statute stalls
A bill aimed at bringing Idaho's abortion laws in line with a recent federal court decision striking down the so-called fetal pain law has stalled in the Senate.
The measure would have deleted sections of the existing law but also added new requirements that physicians must meet before administering drugs that terminate pregnancies.
Bill would protect doctors from assault
The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee approved a measure intended to protect doctors and nurses who face physical threats.
Coeur d'Alene Rep. Luke Malek said emergency room workers frequently face assaults from violent patients, including drug addicts.
Anyone attacking a health care worker could face felony charges and up to five years in prison.
Senate OKs bill with new layoff criteria
Legislation backed by teachers and Idaho school boards calling for an end to seniority as the only factor in deciding layoffs passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday.
The bill allows school boards to consider performance reviews and student achievement when making reductions. The changes effectively reduce the practice of laying off new teachers.
The Idaho Education Association union got behind the bill and its one-year sunset clause. The IEA and school board officials will take the next year to study the effectiveness of the change and decide how to proceed.
The Associated Press