Rep. Heather Scott – District 1
January 25 through February 5 from the Boise Capitol
Activity has really picked up for week 3 & 4 at the Capitol. Remember, you can watch or listen to all the action live at http://legislature.idaho.gov/. This is also the site where you can follow bills and watch committee hearings of the house and senate sessions to see laws legislators are passing on your behalf. It is a good resource for holding your legislators accountable.
State revenues are up approximately $125 million, and the Governor has an aggressive spending plan for 2016 and 2017. While many agree that “improving education, expanding health care; insuring water sustainability; building new behavioral health crisis centers; exploring nuclear energy and cyber security” are important, many legislators are concerned with the Governor’s no reduction/no rebate plan. We are working hard on various ideas to cut taxes as an alternative to his aggressive spending plans. Reducing Idahoan’s tax burdens should be a top priority which would make us more competitive with surrounding states.
Legislative Bill Highlights:
- A resolution (HJR 1) to amend the Idaho Constitution to protect education assistance to Idaho students was introduced. If passed, it will make scholarships and grants to students permissible and constitutional at any school they choose to attend.
- Two bills (H422 and H423) to address confusion in Idaho law concerning the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit. Both bills would allow Idahoans to carry concealed weapons without a permit anywhere in Idaho that is not prohibited by state or federal law (like schools, etc).
- A bill (H420) to repeal the state’s requirement that all Idaho school districts must administer the SBAC (Common Core) test to their students. It leaves the option open, however, if districts choose the SBAC themselves. Also, students would not be required to take the SBAC for graduation.
- A bill (H421) to repeal the State Health Insurance Exchange has been introduced. The state health insurance exchange has been an expensive and frustrating endeavor. It has cost over $70 million to set up, and binds Idaho to all the federal rules, leaving no room for Idaho solutions. It also has lead to a virtual monopoly in health insurance “choices” for Idaho citizens—only a few insurance companies have been permitted space on the exchange. All the while, Idahoans’ health insurance premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed.
- A tax relief bill (380) passed the house. It reduced the top two income tax brackets and the corporate income tax rate all by 1%. It also increased the grocery tax credit for the bottom five brackets by $10.
There are many more draft bills awaiting introduction; please keep your selves educated on how these bill could affect your lives. The hundreds of proposed bill topics and their current status can all be viewed at the “bill center” www.legislature.idaho.gov or on my website: www.repheatherscott.com/ on the bill tab.
A few other highlights of the last two weeks include the following:
- A “Common Core Science Rule” disappeared from the agenda when lawmakers and citizens shared their overwhelming concerns with it.
- I attended several events including the Idaho Potato Commission, the Idaho Association of Counties event, and a wonderful dinner event with local public officials from Boundary County.
- Last Saturday I attended a Western States Rancher Workshop to learn more about the struggles western states are having with federal agencies including the BLM and US Forest Service concerning their land management policies. .
- I presented my Engaged Citizen talk to a large group of Ada and Canyon County citizens. It was well received with many questions asked and new contacts made.
- Pie Day at the Capitol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLfTDkiILMo
| My Environment & Technology committee has completed voting on the hundreds of pages of government agency rules which were presented mostly by Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ). It is very frustrating to see how much control IDEQ and Idaho are willing to cede to the federal government by inserting EPA regulations into Idaho code. We are literally inserting thousands of pages of EPA regulations right into the state code at a rapid speed with very little, if any citizen input or state oversight. I believe the affects of these actions will have long term implications and consequences for Idaho citizens and businesses. The IDEQ is quickly becoming an enforcement arm of the federal government. A radical liberal environment group testified in committee last week indicating their great pleasure at the progress Idaho has made implementing all the various federal environmental code. With the state bowing to nearly every EPA demand, I believe environmental groups will take every advantage to file new lawsuits against citizens and businesses at tax payer’s expense.
It was very disheartening to have a representative from southeast Idaho tell me in a private conversation after the meeting that “our federal government is like the parent and we, the state are like the child, that needs to do what they say. It is this type of thinking that I believe entrenches us deeper into the mess we are in at a federal and state level.
An unconstitutional tax conformity bill came through my Revenue & Tax Committee last Wednesday. Due to what I perceive as “fear of a house floor fight”, the bill was rewritten and presented a second time to the committee on Friday morning. The committee voted to fast track it straight to the floor that morning. Below are the two versions of the bill.
Original bill (354): http://legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2016/H0354Bookmark.htm
Changed bill (425): http://legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2016/H0425.pdf
As a liberty minded constitutional representative, it was a very discouraging to me that a majority of legislators opted to ignore our constitution and cave to pressure to by allowing gay marriage in Idaho to be recognized via the State Tax commission. This is a direct violation of our Idaho State Constitution. In Article 3, Section 28, it states: “Marriage DEFINITION: A marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
This was, and still is a big issue. Legislators that voted for this bill without first removing the amendment to the constitution are in direct violation of upholding their oath to the state constitution. The bill passed PASSED – 54-16-0. You can view how your legislator voted here: http://legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2016/H0425.htm
Representative Dixon captures my thoughts so eloquently in his latest newsletter:
“Repeatedly we are asked to insert Federal code into State law. I am not aware of a Committee in the House that does not encounter what is called the “incorporation by reference” of Federal regulations into Idaho statues. This Bill was a “tax conformity” Bill that aligns our tax policy with the IRS for the ease of our CPA’s and State Tax Commission. In conforming to IRS standards, we were asked to abrogate our State Constitution, and go against the wishes of the majority of Idaho citizens. The accepting of Federal policy into a state through coercion, or bribery, is one of the largest dangers to our freedom that we face.” -Rep Sage Dixon
Acceptance of this “new” definition of marriage by sneaking it through our State Tax Commission was more about the damage it did by weakening the state’s constitution than it was about the issue itself.
I questioned the Tax Commissions during Committee hearings on how they could pursue such a bill when it was known to be in direct violation to Article 3 Section 28 of our constitution. Their answers were not convincing to either myself or for Representative Ron Nate (District 34) Sadly, we were joined on the floor by only a handful of others who believed upholding our oath protect and preserve to the state constitution was of prime importance.
In Closing I’d like to say that….
Protecting freedoms and liberties for Idaho citizens is a job a take very seriously. I believe the oath I took to uphold and protect the constitution requires 24-7 vigilance. Those who know me know that I am not afraid to be a lone voice protecting important values whenever necessary. Fortunately, there are a few others in the Idaho legislature who also share my views.
As you know, citizen input is absolutely critical and very influential when dealing with any elected official. When each of you contacts legislators, you become an unstoppable force and have the power to get things done in Boise. Never give up and don’t give in to discouragement. You are making a difference! I am honored to work with you and to represent you and your interests as we work through the 2016 legislative session.
If you get an opportunity to visit the Capitol, please give me a call and if time permits, I will be happy to give you a tour. Please visit my website: Repheatherscott.com to view older newsletters and lots more.
If you know someone who would like to receive this newsletter, please have them go to the following link and sign up: http://legislature.idaho.gov/lso/gdsubscribe.html
Rep. Heather Scott
Rep Heather Scott District 1
State Capitol | P.O. Box 83720 | Boise, Idaho 83720-0081