Follow the Rules – Get it Done Right
by Rep. Ronald Nate – District 34
The 2017 Idaho Legislature is only a few hours from coming to an end—we have moved beyond last Friday’s false deadline for the end of session. But in these waning hours of the session, there is still a false sense of urgency to “get done and head home.” This is exactly how the establishment is able to force bad bills through the system. They create the false deadline and then finally come up with some of the most important bills of the session, including transportation and tax cuts.
Last week in a late session of the House, a 42-page bill about new oil and gas laws was significantly changed and only made available to the public a few minutes before we actually voted on it. It passed with flying colors even though the public and affected property owners had no time to give input. Six brand new drafts of legislation were presented last Thursday morning in committees and a very important tax bill was introduced on Friday. There are still dozens of bills that need to be voted on before tomorrow’s new artificial deadline.
Some of the important bills left to be considered are a 20-page wage garnishment bill, a bill regarding lewd conduct and alcohol sales, and three bills concerning contested elections. The legislature still hasn’t addressed the emergency road repairs and general transportation concerns.
Watch carefully what happens in these last hours. I anticipate a ramshackle transportation bill with various funding gimmicks including GARVEE borrowing, money shifts, and/or tax increases to try to address transportation issues. This should have been fully contemplated weeks ago, but here we are scrambling at the last minute. Does this sound like good legislating to you?
On Monday 3/27 there will be three important tax bills still circulating through the legislature. One bill would eliminate sales taxes on groceries, another is a minimal income tax cut and unemployment insurance cut, and the other bill could combine all three. These bills deserve thorough consideration and legislators should be able to vote on them. The process is supposed to work that way, but behind the scenes scheming and shenanigans by leadership often stops the process or circumvents normal procedure. Many times our legislators don’t even know what is going on.
Having the establishment change or suspend normal legislative rules in order to cram bills through the system at the last minute is unacceptable and not transparent. The rules of normal legislative procedure are designed to ensure transparency and fairness, but when the establishment in leadership gets in a hurry, those principles are compromised.
The legislature needs to slow down, maintain sound legislative processes, give proper notice of legislative actions, hold public hearings, and maintain all forms of transparency. Doing things right will take a bit longer, as it should. Bad policy is more expensive to taxpayers than extending the legislative session one or two more days. Our legislators need to be as diligent on the last day as we were on the first day.
It’s often said, “haste makes waste,” but in the legislature, haste is far more damaging. We get higher taxes, unnecessary spending, cronyism, onerous regulations, bad policy, and important issues left unaddressed. Instead of merely trying to “get it done,” we need to make sure we “get it done right.” Slow down, take a breath, and follow the rules. That is exactly why we have procedural rules and it is how good lawmaking is supposed to work. I will do my best to make sure proper procedure is followed.
Sound Money Should Not be Taxed
Today bill H206 is still awaiting a hearing in the Senate Local Government and Taxation committee. The bill easily passed the House, and it would exempt capital gains on gold and silver holdings from income taxes. This bill protect Idahoans who buy gold and silver in response to the devaluation of U.S. currency. When the Federal Reserve increases the money supply, many people turn to gold or silver as a more stable store of wealth.
When this bill was introduced, I had the pleasure of meeting Stefan Gleason of Money Metals Exchange in Eagle, Idaho. He and his two business partners (Mike and Clint) established the business about 7 years ago and now have over 80,000 customers nationwide who buy gold and silver as a protection against inflation. They run a fantastic business and it is growing.
The picture above is at Money Metals Exchange and I am holding a large solid silver bullet piece (10 oz.) and a small solid silver bullet (1 oz.). They have many, many different forms of gold and silver coins and bullion items.
Hopefully, there is still an opportunity for the Senate to consider and pass H206, it would be well worth the effort.
Overspending and Opportunity Cost
I have been trying to be extra-vigilant on watching the spending items this session. When I see a spending line-item which could be better spent on, say, teacher salaries (pay is important to attract and retain good teachers in Idaho–especially in math and the sciences), I put them into my “overspending tracker.” It’s surprising how much could be saved if we chose to be more thrifty with taxpayer dollars. I also calculate how much we could have been added to the paycheck of each of Idaho’s 15,985 teachers with that spending, and/or how many new teachers we could have hired with that spending. In economics, we call this “opportunity cost.”
When I began this, I thought I might be able to identify a couple dozen bills and maybe $2-3million dollars or so. I am stunned to see how many pieces of legislation might have extra spending and how much it adds up to. This far into the session (and there are still a few more spending bills coming through the House), I’ve identified the following:
- Number of bills with overspending items: 69
- Amount of dollars of overspending: $99,596,310
- How much each teacher’s salary could increase: $6,230.61 per yr.
Bills of Interest Update
Here is an update of some of the key bills working their way through the Capitol.
H67 – Income Tax Cut Grocery Tax Exemption – Senate amended this income tax bill!! — Now H67aa — In House with amendment making it a Grocery Sales tax exemption bill.
H94 – American Laws for American Courts – Stalled in House St. Aff. Comm.
H109 – City referendum elections in all years – Stalled in Local Govt. Comm.
H110 – Front license plates exemption – Failed in the House, 28-42.
H137 – Homeowners Electrical Work – to Governor – Signature pending
H154 – Transparency in Tax Notices – Failed in Senate Committee, 3-5.
H179 – No Mandatory Minimum Sentencing – House Judiciary Committee.
H202a – Civil Asset Forfeiture – Amended – House 2nd Reading
H206 – Gold & Silver Capital Gains – Stalled in Sen. Local Gov’t & Tax Comm.
H216 – Short-Term Rentals – to Governor – signature pending.
S1050 – Immunization Exemption Rights – Stalled in Senate H&W Committee.
S1131 – Abortion Pill Reversal – Informed Consent (to give women information about how to reverse a chemical abortion, therefore saving some babies before it’s too late). Stalled in Senate State Affairs Committee.
S1162 – Transportation GARVEE Bonding – Failed in Senate
S1182 – Faith Healing Rights Protection – Failed in Senate.
HCR018 – Article V Convention – House State Affairs Committee.
SCR108 – Article V Convention – Failed in the Senate, 11-24.
___ – Grocery Tax Exemption – Stalled in House Rev and Tax Committee.
___ – Repeal Common Core – Stalled in House Education Committee.
___ – Repeal the SBAC Test – Stalled in House Education Committee.
___ – Strengthen/Revise Castle Doctrine – Stalled in House St. Aff. Comm.
___ – Concealed Gun Rights Expansion – Stalled in House State Affairs Comm.
___ – Firearms safety classes in high schools – Failed in Ed. Comm., 6-9.
___ – Electronic publishing of public notices – Stalled in Local Gov’t Comm.
___ – Repeal Health Insurance Exchange – Stalled in Hlth and Welfare Comm.
___ – Other tax cut bills?
Growing Freedom – Get Involved!
Please visit the Growing Freedom Idaho website. It was created to help all citizens be more involved with what is going on in the Idaho Legislature and how to effectively make their voices heard. The site includes a Freedom Agenda of legislation brought to the legislature by citizens and is what liberty-minded legislators are pursuing this session.