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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 2

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I was participating in a video conference and describing all of the issues that are before the House State Affairs Committee. Someone on the other end of the meeting said, “Wow! You get all the good stuff!” A member of State Affairs told me that it is certainly not a committee that gives you a chance to relax much. Relaxation is over-rated anyway.

There are some who want to come up with a consensus about increased funding for highways. Progress on that front is slow at best, with no clear-cut way forward. Everything that has been proposed so far has not gained much support. A new sales tax for roads bill is yet to be introduced, and may not come about at all. The main idea floating around is a one cent increase coupled with not taxing groceries coupled with eliminating the grocery tax credit coupled with a reduced income tax rate to a flat tax. That is even confusing to write about, let alone writing a bill that would cover all of those bases.

Another little non attention getter (except in local government circles) is a bill to take half of the new construction tax and give it to schools to pay off bonds and other limited uses. We are getting an earful on this one from the counties. What most people don’t know is that this is money that comes in after the levies are set and is over and above what is budgeted but can be spent without going through the normal budgeting process. It is still stuck in committee.

We are still struggling with the procurement rules of the Department of Administration. Like some other proposals I read here, I can’t seem to read them without wanting to change every sentence. When it comes to how the State asks for bids for contracts, awards them and renews or extends them, there is much room for improvement. We are told that The Department of Education, for example has about fifteen hundred contracts in existence, about half of which are active. Seems like a lot in either case.

The bills now before the full House number in the mid thirties and I sense that there are a few of those that will be taking some longer than average debates. There are still no budget bills among them, but that will change soon. As for State Affairs, we still have some interesting stuff ahead. A year without a liquor bill or two would not be normal and on that score it will be a normal year. Still to be heard is the historical racing bill and of course a little thing dubbed Constitutional Carry. And don’t leave out doing away with Daylight Savings Time from being looked at, again. I’ve been trying all weekend to get in touch with a legislator buddy in Utah to see where they are on that issue. In any event brace yourself for the change next week. It’s not one of my favorite things, or anything close to it.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

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