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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Jan. 27

January 31st, 2018 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

As the third week of this legislative session draws to a close, I’ve gotten a lot of comments on how much different this session seems to be from last year. I will admit that there seems to be a little more urgency than normal.

We had what I like to refer to as our first “fur fight” on the House floor this week. Because Idaho does not have a revenue code for income tax, we have historically conformed with the federal code. Doing so makes things much easier and simplifies Idaho’s tax forms. After a brief protest debate on something not really related to taxes, the bill passed and was sent to the Senate.

Speaking of taxes, the above-mentioned tax conformity is driving an income tax reduction bill. If we do not address that issue it would cause an automatic tax increase to all income tax filers. If that sounds a little complicated, you would be correct. It only makes sense to ensure that federal changes do not create a wind fall for the state. The exact amounts are changing from day to day but will be firmed up so we can set our budgets.

This has been education week for the joint budget committee (JFAC) and they have been listening to the wish lists of every level of education. With that comes the chance to visit with the University presidents. Three of them have announced their retirement and it is a bit unusual to have that happen all at once. One thing they all have in common is that they have great feelings for Idaho. At least one of them is remaining here after retirement. He said that Idaho has become home.

The water user’s association was in town for their annual meetings and conversations are always interesting with them. There doesn’t seem to be anything ag likes to talk about more than water, unless it is the weather. Since one depends on the other, the two subjects get equal billing. As I talked with some they have been all smiles about water abundance in the reservoirs until snowpack is mentioned and the brows furrow some. All of that notwithstanding in general they are optimistic. One thing in the realm of water that is coming up more frequently is the need for water in the municipalities. One person told me that doing more aquifer recharge is indicated and in the next breath said that he wished farmers would return to the good old days of flood irrigating. Now that is a topic that would take a few pages to cover.

We are seeing a lot of legislation being introduced and the State Affairs Committee is ground zero for some of the things that will be controversial, at least it seems that way. I have put the committee on notice that our meetings are bound to become longer in the coming two weeks. Even though the meetings may be longer they will in the words of one committee member, “not be boring. It is something new every day.”

We are trying a new timetable this year and that may be the biggest reason for the urgency. History tells us that when we hurry, the bigger the hurry the bigger the mistakes. One of our newly appointed members is about to sponsor her first bill on the floor of the House. She told me that she was concerned about making a mistake. I told her not to worry much about that because chances are somebody around here already made that mistake.

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

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