Rep. Tom Loertsher, R-Bone
Every year we have what we call the “Going Home Bill.” Some years it is about how to balance the budget and this year it was the Education budget. While there were a few other bills that remained to be done in the final few days, this was the one that drew the most attention. This was the week that it took to do about a half of a day’s business due to the slow-down in the Senate the previous week.
History will be a better judge of how well we did this year than trying to evaluate the session at this time. But then why not try anyway? So here is a little run-down of what we did and some of the effects of all of these new laws.
The biggest and most controversial issue by far was the Health Insurance Exchange bill. It consumed the discussion for several weeks and may be the matter on which history will judge us the most critically. You may be asking just what the effects of this process will be? The only honest answer is that we just don’t know yet and won’t know until there are more answers from Washington, D.C. There are so many variables at this point and we are hearing new little unpleasant details almost daily, or so it seems.
Personal Property Tax has to be the number two big deal worked on, again over a several week time frame. At one time it looked like the issue would die altogether and then there was suddenly a bill that came forward from the counties. The process in the bill is cumbersome but should have a positive effect on small businesses.
One noteworthy outcome for the education budget this year is that the general fund increase this year was in excess of eleven percent, which is not bad for a year that general revenues are predicted to come in at an increase of under three percent. Even the minority party supported the budget.
Time will also tell if we should have looked more carefully at Medicaid redesign and the counties’ medically indigent responsibility and the Catastrophic fund. It is sure to be the most talked about issue over the interim.
There is a long list of other things that did not get the attention of the press much or even mentioned for that matter. Federal land management, horse racing purse enhancement, tribal liquor licenses, election law clarifications, and changes to Idaho road law just to mention a few.
It has been a session to remember and now that it has come to a close, the criticism and/or praise is about to commence. And as for me, I had a funny feeling Sunday afternoon in finding myself at home going through the cattle instead of heading back to Boise. I could tell that the Duramax had the same pangs because I had to chain it to the shed to keep it from taking off on its own.
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