The 2013 legislative session saw the typical number of far ranging issues, large and small, that land on legislators’ desks in the course of representing constituents from across the state. The Legislature’s Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee called for a modest growth rate of 5.3% for FY 2014 over FY 2013’s estimate of 2.7%. This would represent the third straight year of growth (albeit small), a welcome trend from the recession years. The cautiously optimistic budget scenario allowed JFAC to produce appropriation budgets for state agencies with slight increases in some instances.
The Legislature’s final action on general fund budgets reflected a 2.2% increase in the public schools budget. Colleges and universities received a 3.8% increase. Medicaid received a 0.7% increase, and corrections received a 7.1% increase. Here is a summary list of selected key actions that successfully made their way through the legislative process in the 2013 Legislature.
H 113aa Recognizes that as an increasing number of Idahoans are removed from day-to-day agricultural experiences, agritourism provides a valuable opportunity for the general public to experience and understand agriculture. The legislation limits the liability of agritourism professionals resulting from the inherent risks of agritourism activities; provided a specified warning is posted and certain procedures are followed.
SCR 102 Urges the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Patent Institute to honor Idaho’s opposition and deny the request for registration of a Turkish company to claim the trademark “IDAHO” for use in identification of products not originating in the State of Idaho. Several days ago, the Turkish Embassy notified Idaho that a patent to use the trademark “IDAHO” had been denied. This is great news!
H 65 Addresses the $30.6 million that was left unallocated in the fiscal year 2013 Public School Support Program budget after the failure of Propositions 1, 2, and 3 during November of 2012 which repealed Senate Bills 1108, 1110, and 1184 of the 2011 session. This bill restores the “use it or lose it” flexibility, unfreezes the education credits on the salary grid, restores the authority to spend moneys for additional math and science teachers, provides funding for technology, and restores authority to spend moneys for dual credit enrollment. All provisions of this bill apply only to fiscal year 2013.
Education Budget This is the fiscal year 2014 appropriation for the Public Schools Educational Support program in the amount of $1,598,156,500. This appropriation includes a 2.2% increase in General Funds. This appropriation unfreezes the two remaining years on salary grid; increases the minimum teacher salary from $30,500 to $31,000; increases discretionary funds by 1.5% up to $20,000 per support unit; provides $21,000,000 in teacher achievement awards and professional development; provides $13,400,000 for classroom technology, professional development; and technology pilot projects.
H 317 This bill clarifies that all certificated employees must receive at least one written performance evaluation each year, and in the case of instructional staff, the evaluation must include at least two documented observations.
H205 Reinstates the two years of movement on the salary grid, assuring school districts receive the necessary $4 million to fully fund education movement on the salary grid for those who have earned college credits over the last several years but did not receive pay increase because of the grid education freeze.
S1098 Requires all negotiations between the school district and the local association be held in public.
S 1108 Amends the requirements for having an initiative or referendum placed on the ballot by requiring signatures of six percent of the registered voters in at least eighteen legislative districts as well as six percent of the total registered voters of the state. This bill allows rural Idaho to have a voice in the ballot initiative and referendum process, rather than all names being gathered in one or two large cities. This bill would NOT have prevented the three education referendums from being on the ballot, because 32 legislative districts had enough signatures (only 18 districts required).
Health and Human Services
H 214 Amends existing law to clarify laws relating to paternity, the putative father registry, termination of parental rights and adoption in order to strengthen adoption laws thereby reducing the chances that an adoption will be overturned.
H 248 Establishes a state-based, not for profit Health Insurance Exchange, establishes the Exchange Board, provides for powers and authority of the Exchange, provides for reporting, provides that the Exchange shall not preempt the duties of the Department of Insurance and provides for the preference for Idaho contractors in the Health Insurance Exchange.
S 1136 Amends existing law to revise a listing of synthetic drugs to include synthetic marijuana or “spice”.
S 1004 Provides for three year combination fishing and hunting licenses for both residents and nonresidents.
S 1061 Asserts primacy over the management of the state’s fish and wildlife and provides that the introduction or reintroduction of any federally listed species onto lands within the state or into state waters without state consultation and approval is against the policy of the State of Idaho.
Taxes and Taxation
H 315 Provides an exemption for the first $100,000 valuation of personal property tax. The sales tax distribution formula will replace that valuation to the local taxing districts. The total impact to the General Fund is determined to be $20,000,000 ongoing, but that replacement is capped in 2013 valuations so there will be no growth in the replacement amount. Additionally, the bill provides for an exemption of personal property defined as operating, and defines a de minimis amount of $3,000 which will be exempted from placement on the property tax rolls.