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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, April 1

April 4th, 2013 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Last spring we were trying to finish up planting our grain and we had about 15 acres left when the bell housing in our Steiger tractor broke leaving us without a clutch and other problems. What that meant was that it took us another day to get another piece of equipment in the field and be able to finish the planting for the year. What happened here last week was much like that experience in that we were within a day of finishing our work when the “bell housing” broke. Thursday a big push was made to resolve the issues so that we could get out of town. No matter how close we were, we just didn’t have the wherewithal to fix the problems and adjourn.

The situation centered around the failure of the K-12 budget to pass the Senate and all of the items that the budget contained. Some thought there was not enough money in the budget. Others thought there was too much money in the budget. Some thought there was not enough flexibility for the school districts. Others thought there was way too much intent language (policy matters that had no public input). It’s quite frustrating to realize that the House had all but finished its business, and now we must wait upon the Senate for a solution to the problem they have created.

A bill that I have been working on for a good part of the session is one that makes some changes to road law. It has been a challenging task because there have been so many different groups in the room discussing what ought to be done. This is probably one of the most significant pieces of legislation that we will pass all year. The bill insures that private property rights are protected, that access to public lands is also protected and enhanced, and also provides for a new review by the court to include new information where something might have been overlooked during the commissioners hearing process. It is one of those rare bills that has the support of all concerned, highway districts, counties, irrigation districts, utilities, the Farm Bureau, and the Food Producers of Idaho, along with private landowners. It passed both Houses and is on the Governor’s desk.

We’ve also been instructed by leadership that there is to be no more talk about Medicaid expansion this session. The downside is that we will not be able to consider the companion piece of legislation, the repeal of our medically indigent law and the repeal of the Catastrophic Fund. Making those changes would provide lowering of property taxes statewide of about $478 million over the next decade. Even though the session has been extended for a few days, we have been told to leave it alone for this year.

And now we find ourselves facing another week at the capitol with only a few pieces of legislation to consider. These are the things that we are required to do by our state Constitution and that is to pass a budget. I was asked all weekend how long that would take, and the only way I can answer is that it is hard to tell because we have absolutely no idea at this point how long it will take to get the factions together. I sure hope it’s soon because the Steiger is fixed and ready to go and the ground is drying out rapidly. I don’t know about you, but I had a touch of spring fever over the weekend.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

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