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A Look at 2012's New Legislation

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A Look at 2012's New Legislation

George reports on accomplishments Idaho's 61st legislature from a Seat in the House.

The Idaho House of Representatives ended the second regular session of the 61st Idaho Legislature “Sine Die” on March 29 under a more positive economic outlook than what we have experienced over the past three years.

The revenue estimate adopted by the legislature for budget setting purposes called for a modest growth in revenues that enabled us to set a budget that will meet all of the state’s spending obligations and cover the major inflation increases for the upcoming fiscal year 2013 (FY-13) including Medicaid costs, indigent health care, educational enrollment growth and prison inmate growth.

The FY 13 budget adopted by the legislature allowed for a slight increase in the General Fund appropriation of about 6.8 percent over the current fiscal year 2012 appropriation. Within this increase public schools received a 4.6 percent increase, college and universities received an 8.6 percent increase, Medicaid an 8.7 percent increase and corrections a 7.3 percent increase.

The legislature also provided a tax relief package of $35.7 million, restored the state’s cash reserves by about $49.5 million and approved a 2 percent salary increase for state employees, judges and higher education employees.

The legislature also eliminated the reduction in salary-based apportionment for school district teachers, administrators, and classified support staff that was instituted last legislative session to help fund the Students Come First education reform package. This legislation (House Bill 698) also provides that “any increased funds appropriated for public schools in Fiscal Year 2014 will first be used to pay for growth and the statutory cost of ‘Pay for Performance,’ Public School Technology, the next implementation phase for mobile computing devices in high schools and the Dual Credit for Early Completers Program, prior to funding increases for any other items within the public schools budget.” House Bill 698 also provides for an increase in the salary for beginning teachers.

In addition to the budget, legislators also dealt with a number of far-ranging issues in the course of representing their constituent interests. These policy issues addressed everything from permitting and regulating gas and oil exploration, texting while driving, the constitutional right to hunt and fish, tax relief, a mandate for pre-abortion ultrasounds, penalties for animal cruelty, establishing a procedure for partnering universities with the private sector to enhance economic development and other policy issues.

The following are a few of the more significant actions passed by the legislature that provide more detail on some of these legislative issues:

House Bill 546 (H 546) created the Global Entrepreneurial Mission Grant Fund that transforms the Idaho Innovation Council at the Department of Commerce to the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission Council. IGEM is designed to “leverage private-industry guidance and the talent and expertise of Idaho’s research universities to commercialize innovative and viable technologies that will strengthen Idaho’s economy.”

House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR2) proposes an amendment to the Idaho Constitution by the addition of a new section 23, Article 1, to “preserve the rights of the people of Idaho to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife. This amendment will go before Idaho voters in the upcoming November general election.

Senate Bill 1274 amended (S 1274a) implements a ban on texting while driving. The legislation defines texting as “engaging in the review of, or manual preparation and transmission of, written communications via wireless handheld devices.” Although not as restrictive as the legislation could have been, it is the intent of the legislation to emphasize to Idaho drivers the serious safety problems of texting while driving.

This is just a short summary of some of the legislative actions passed this session; I will provide more information on other legislative activities of interest in future River Journal articles.

Given that the session is over I look forward to being back home in Dover and welcome your comments and input on legislative actions this session and other issues of concern. I can be reached at home by phone at (208) 265-0123, regular mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover 83825 and by e mail at geskridge(at)coldreams.com.

Just a reminder, the Idaho primary election will be held on May 12. For the first time this will be a closed primary for those voting the Republican ticket and in order to vote for Republican candidates you will have to register your Republican Party affiliation. If you have questions on this new procedure please do not hesitate to contact me or your Bonner or Boundary county clerks. This will be an important primary election and I encourage you all to exercise your right to vote on May 15!

Thanks for reading!


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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

Tagged as:

budget, Idaho Legislature, A Seat in the House, Idaho politics, legislation, tax relief, Students Come First, Global Entrepreneurial Mission Grant Fund, House Joint Resolution 2, Senate Bill 1274, texting ban

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