Focus On The Idaho Legislature
Three Things to Watch for this Week
The legislature is very busy these days. Committee work is intense and there are many bills filling up agenda calendars for the House Sessions. With so much going on, it’s sometimes hard to get a focus on some very important issues. Here are three highlights of what you might want to pay attention to for the week ahead.
Remote Testimony Pilot Project — Firearms Safety Classes in Schools bill (H443). The hearing in the House Education Committee will be held on Monday, February 26th at 9:00 a.m. This is the first opportunity Idaho citizens have to testify for or against a bill without having to drive to Boise to do it. You can sign up for testimony in advance, and then go to your closest remote testimony site to actually testify and answer questions in a live teleconference with the committee. The closest site for District 34 (Madison and Bonneville Counties) is in Idaho Falls at the Idaho Falls Research and Extension Center, 1776 Science Center Drive. To sign up to testify live before the House Education Committee from Idaho Falls or any one of the six remote locations, go to this sign up page.
The Firearms Safety Classes bill encourages school boards to offer firearms safety classes in K-12 public schools, and provides instruction for who can be selected to teach the courses. This bill has the potential to save lives in Idaho. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found an 80% reduction in deaths related to firearms accidents for kids who have gone through a safety course in kindergarten through third grade. Please consider testifying on this bill.
A Conservative Health Care Plan will have a hearing early next week in the House Health and Welfare Committee. The proposal, by Rep. Bryan Zollinger, saves taxpayers over $100 million, does not shove people off private insurance, allows patients to keep their current doctor, and most importantly does not expand Medicaid. We need Idaho solutions which allow people to exercise individual choice in healthcare rather than the big-government plan to put more Idahoans on a federal program. Idahoans deserve choices, low costs, and independence in their healthcare, not more federal dependency and control. The Conservative Healthcare Plan is a freedom alternative for Idahoans.
Meanwhile the big-government, dual waiver healthcare plan is on the House 3rd Reading calendar. Word on the street is the plan doesn’t have enough support to pass the House right now, so leadership is holding it until they can sway enough moderate republicans to change their votes. Conservatives are holding strong. It is bill H464 and would cost taxpayers $100 million or more and expand the Obamacare welfare program.
A Grocery Tax Repeal bill is in the drafting stage and hopefully will be coming forward in the next few days. For the past several weeks, tax proposals have been introduced in the capitol. Unfortunately, the only one moving forward to this point has been the relatively smallish tax cut plan from Governor Otter. With so much extra tax collections coming into Idaho government ($400 million), we can and should do more to return the excess to Idaho’s hardworking families. Gov. Otter’s plan does NOT include repealing the sales tax on groceries. So, some colleagues and I have drafted a bill to simply repeal the tax on groceries and the grocery tax credit. The bill is a clean bill and will be a great complement to Governor Otter’s income tax relief. Many Idahoans have expressed a desire to remove the tax on groceries and this bill gives their representatives the ability to respond to those wishes.
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