Week 7 of the 2017 Legislative Session has been the busiest yet! Floor Sessions have been starting earlier than usual in order to have enough time to vote on all the bills and conduct our regular business.
We have voted on bills ranging from forgone taxes in taxing districts, audits of the soil and water conservation districts, public records exemptions, wine and construction management licenses, fingerprinting for certain professions, elections, and even the micromanagement of how names on real-estate signs are displayed.
My State Affairs Committee has been meeting daily for a full two hours each morning. Many interesting topics pass through this committee. It has been very busy and often filled with heated debate.
This week a new bill was introduced related to immigration laws and withholding tax revenues from cities that fail to comply. The room was packed for that debate! Tribal Gaming and slot machine definitions have also dominated the committee’s time the last few weeks. There was more than four hours of testimony for and against a gambling bill related to slot machines.
Currently there are several types of machines used by the state lottery and by the various tribal casinos that may be questionable with respect to the law. Vagueness in the current language makes it hard to check if the machines in casinos are constitutional or not.
This is why it is always imperative that legislators insure the language of every bill is as clear and concise as possible to avoid these legal pitfalls. It is also critical that citizens make their voices heard at committee hearings.
I sponsored HB 151 which passed through the State Affairs Committee and on the House floor. This bill will assure that sled dog racing will remain legal in Idaho despite the ban on dog racing. Many may not know, but Idaho holds three annual well known sled dog races every year including the American Dog Derby in Ashton which is longest continuously run race in America (100 years!). This bill, if passed by the Senate, will protect this long-standing tradition in Idaho for all to enjoy and participate.
As of today, the Senate has printed 111 bills and the House has printed 202 along with 22 memorials and resolutions. Most of these bills, and the majority of the bills that are allowed to be heard in committees, have been written by government agencies, the executive branch or special interest groups. Unfortunately, very few bills have been citizen-initiated through their legislators or by the legislator’s themselves.
Most of the liberty bills (bills limiting government growth) are still languishing locked in committee chairmens’ drawers. Some chairmen are unwilling to put these bills on the agendas. Legislators sponsoring these bills are given a variety of vague reasons why their voices and the voices of their citizens are being silenced, but the real reason is these bills challenge the power of top down centralized government. I encourage all citizens to contact each chairman of every committee and share any concerns they may have with stalled bills. http://growingfreedomidaho.com/bills/#email
Committees are composed of representatives from all across the state. A chairman comes from only one district. We the people are supposed to have a representative government here in Idaho, but the “process” has devolved into numerous committee chairmen either thinking they are the head of a fiefdom with absolute veto power or they perceive protecting their political careers is more important than the citizens they represent.
A few of the bills sitting in various chairman’s drawers include: a bill to repeal the SBAC test, a bill to make Common Core optional for schools. a bill to repeal Obama Care, an income tax cut, (held in Senate committee), the castle doctrine gun bill, a bill to allow bills with a certain amount of sponsors to be heard by the committee... (how ironic).
Constitution: To change or not to change? An Article V Convention bill was introduced in the State Affairs Committee today. It includes language on an application of a convention for proposing amendments and addresses criteria for selecting commissioners.
There is also talk of another gas tax increase circulating around the capitol. The gas tax increase will be hard to justify again this year with a $140 million-dollar revenue surplus sitting in the state coffers.
Hopefully the citizens will make their voices heard loud and clear on these issues.