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A Seat in the House

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A Seat in the House

State sovereignty is big issue in 2010

I emphasized in my last article the impact on the state’s General Fund revenues because of the downturn in our economy and the need to establish a conservative state budget for the remainder of this year and the upcoming fiscal year.

We have just received preliminary revenue numbers for the month of April and it appears that we are about 55 million dollars under our estimate, primarily because of higher than expected income tax refunds.

The legislature accepted a revenue estimate recommended by the Joint Legislative Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee that was less than that estimated by the state’s chief economist in the Division of Financial Management.  Many legislators and other interest groups were critical of our acceptance of the lower revenue forecast because it meant cutting state appropriations for agencies more than if we had accepted the higher forecast by the chief economist.

The wisdom of the legislature accepting the lower forecast for budget setting purposes is being borne-out by the April preliminary revenue results. The revenue for April, which is always the best month for collecting taxes, was about 55.5 million dollars short of the Division of Financial Management’s estimate for April. April’s results indicate that even under the lower revenue forecast used by the legislature, the state is still facing as much as a 13.5 million dollar deficit heading into the two final months of this fiscal year that ends June 30. 

The legislature did leave the Governor a minimum amount of rainy day funds (savings accounts) to use in the event revenues were less than expected. Because of the legislature’s action it is not expected that the Governor will have to call a special legislative session to compensate for the lower revenues, nor is it anticipated that the Governor, at least for now, will have to impose additional holdbacks on spending. He will, however, be asking agency directors to continue looking for additional savings in their departments to help lessen the impact from the lower revenues.

I stated in my last article that I would provide more information on specific legislative actions during the session. The issue of state sovereignity was a significant issue during the session, in part because of the passage of the National Health Plan. The following is a description of legislation passed during the session addressing state sovereignty:

House Bill 391, better known as the “Idaho Health Freedom Act,” was passed that allows legal recourse for Idaho to fight against the federal mandate that all citizens purchase health insurance, whether they want to or not.

House Concurrent resolution 44 calls for Congress to balance the federal budget, extinguish the federal debt, prevent unfunded mandates, and prohibit the federal government from taking ownership of private enterprises in addition to other federal actions impacting states rights.

House Concurrent Resolution 64 asks Congress to limit federal powers under the Tenth Amendment and avoid using the interstate commerce clause to justify an overreaching of federal authority into intrastate commerce.

House Bill 589 prohibits federal regulation of firearms made in Idaho and further strengthens the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

And finally, Senate Joint Memorial 106 parallels House Bill 391 and requests “an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prevent Congress from passing laws requiring citizens of the United States to participate in any health care insurance program or penalizing them for declining health care coverage.”

I anticipate that additional state sovereignty issues will come before the legislature in the upcoming session, especially in the area of immigration reform as is happening in the Arizona legislature at this time.

I will continue to provide information on other specific legislative actions taken in this past session in upcoming issues of the River Journal. I appreciate your interest in the activities of the Idaho legislature and continue to welcome your input on issues important to you.

You can contact me at my home phone at (208) 265-0123 or by mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover, Idaho, 83825.


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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

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