Early News from the Legislature

January 19, 2013

The Economy
The Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment (EORAC) Committee met for several days the week before the 2013 legislature convened.  The EROAC committee took testimony from the State Economists and from business leaders and economic advisors throughout the state.  In his State of the State Address, the Governor released his state revenue forecast number of 5.3%.  That means he anticipates the economy will grow from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 by 5.3% over the previous year.  Although that number seems too optimistic, the EORAC committee voted to adopt the 5.3% growth number.

The Budget
The EORAC committee report also advised the legislative budgeting committee to use a growth number of 3.1% for budgeting purposes.  The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) may adopt that number in a couple of weeks, or has the authority to choose a number of its own to which state budgets will be set.

JFAC has been hearing testimony this week from the Department of Health and Welfare.  Last week they discussed possible scenarios for resolving funding problems resultant from voter rejection of the education propositions.  I am confident JFAC will appropriate the 31 million dollars and resolve the issues to keep our districts in compliance with existing employee contracts.

Health Care
Health Insurance Exchanges are a hot and difficult topic.  The legislature is split on the approach to setting up exchange.  Some desire the exchange to be set up and operated by the State of Idaho, and others desire to do nothing, which will result in Idaho being forced by the federal government to join the federal exchange.  Legislators are in the learning and research phase, and over the next months will review legislative options.  This legislator would appreciate well thought out and written opinions from constituents on this topic, which can be send to my email address: sbair@senate.idaho.gov.

2nd Amendment Gun Rights
I have received countless emails from constituents opposed to the recent actions of the Obama administration restricting gun rights, as have all legislators.  A group of legislators are working on finding the right language and approach for a bill in Idaho to fight back against the Obama gun regulation proposals.  Our desire is to defend Idahoan’s gun rights within the parameters of Idaho’s Constitution, statutes, and court case law.  Proposals are being reviewed by many, including local attorneys and our Attorney General.  We are trying to do this properly to block intrusive federal gun regulation yet prevent extensive litigation, which the state can ill afford with economic times being so difficult.  It will take a while for the legislature to find the right balance, but we will get something appropriate done on the gun issue.

As always, I appreciate your input on topics that are important to you.

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