Capitol Reflections: 2022 Session, Issue 1
By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs
“As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.” - H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920
State of the State Address
BOISE - This week Governor Brad Little delivered the annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Idaho Legislature. It was the shortest address within memory, lasting just under 27 minutes.
His major theme was that Idaho is on the right track. He said “Idaho’s economy is stronger than ever before. We’re one of only four states with more jobs today than before the pandemic. Idahoans are working. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Our budget is balanced. We have robust reserves. Idaho businesses and citizens benefit from living and working in the least regulated state in the nation.”
Governor Little went on to compare the Biden Administration’s approach to the path we are taking here in Idaho. There is a wide divergence, and thankfully Idaho has not been following Washington DC in it’s irresponsible spending and increasing debt.
Some of the recommendations that Governor Little is proposing include: Utilizing a portion of Idaho’s nearly $1.9 billion surplus (over taxation) to pay off all existing state building debt ($175.8 million), to “make a major down payment on state building deferred maintenance” ($250 million), to cut the top marginal income tax rate from 6.5% to 6% for both individuals and corporations ($250 million ongoing), to provide a 12% rebate of 2021 income taxes ($350 million) and to fully fund transportation deferred maintenance ($200 million ongoing) with a one-time investment to improve local bridges ($200 million).
Governor Little also proposed using a mixture of state tax revenues and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA or federal pandemic relief) funds to build additional water infrastructure projects ($75 million general fund, $250 million ARPA), local drinking and wastewater upgrades in rural communities ($450 million ARPA), projects to improve water quality including nutrient reduction in Coeur d’Alene Lake and grants to help farmers and ranchers implement BMPs that improve Idaho’s priority watersheds ($70 million ARPA and $20 million general fund.)
However, Governor Little also recommends a number of expenditures that appear to be getting far afield of the government’s responsibility of protecting the rights and property of the citizens and much closer to the Biden Administration’s philosophy. He recommends “providing $50 million for Empowering Parents Grants to help families take charge of education expenses for their children,” $50 million to relieve pressures on worker housing, $50 million in day-care grants for workers, with many additional proposals for various interests around the state, each worth millions of dollars.
All of these are just proposals at this point. The legislature will now review Governor Little’s proposals and will determine which ones to accept, and which ones to reject. They will also determine what amount of money to direct to those they deem worthy. It will be a long process that will likely see a number of adjustments before the final package is approved. IFBF policy #16 supports the construction, improvement and increased size of water storage facilities.
Some New Faces in the Legislature
BOISE - Both the House and the Senate gaveled into session on Monday, starting the Second Regular Session of the Sixty-sixth Idaho Legislature. The State House is once again filled with lawmakers, many with ample experience in crafting state policy, while others are taking their first steps in the Capitol arena.
A couple of new appointees to the House of Representatives are first, Rep. Lori McCann (R-Lewiston) replacing former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger in District 6, Seat A; and second, Rep. Ned Burns (D-Bellevue) replacing former Rep. Muffy Davis in District 26, Seat A.
In the Senate, there are three new appointees. First, Sen. Carrie Semmelroth (D-Boise) replacing former Sen. Ali Rabe in District 17. The other two appointees are Julie VanOrden (R-Pingree) filling in for Sen. Steve Bair in District 31, and Robert Blair (R-Kendrick) filling in for Sen. Dan Johnson in District 6.
IFBF’s Governmental Affairs team looks forward to working with these individuals during this session and will be happy to help connect them with our local county boards and members. We also look forward to working with all members of the Legislature as we advance Farm Bureau policy this year.
Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture
BOISE - As part of the Legislature’s annual economic outlook and state financial review, Dr. Garth Taylor of the University of Idaho gave the Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee a presentation of the 2021 financial condition of the state’s agriculture industry.
Despite many challenges facing Idaho’s agriculture producers with drought conditions, high temperatures, increasing input costs, supply chain disruptions, Idaho set a record for total farm cash receipts 2021. Nonetheless, the total net farm income declined by 8 percent from 2020, largely due to record-setting expenses and input costs.
A full written summary of Dr. Taylor’s presentation can be found here.
A video summary can be found here.
Legislative Intern Opportunity
BOISE - The legislative session is upon us and the IFBF Governmental Affairs team is re-initiating the popular legislative intern program that members are welcome to participate in. The program will run from January 31st through March 24th. Any county may participate once per session if spaces are still available. Interns will be booked on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of two interns each week.
The legislative intern program is a great opportunity for county members to get first-hand experience working with legislators and to see our legislative process in action.
It also gives legislators the opportunity to visit with county members and reinforces that Farm Bureau policy is developed at the grass-roots level. This internship is an excellent way for members to experience how our Governmental Affairs team works to implement our policy in the state. Some of the opportunities included in the internship are the ability to shadow IFBF Governmental Affairs team, speak with legislators, watch committee hearings, and see the process of legislation being created and approved by the legislature.
County Presidents will have further details on the internship program and how to get involved. If you are interested, or have questions, feel free to reach out to either Braden Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org or Chyla Wilson Cwilson@idahofb.org at the Boise office. They are happy to answer any questions and give further information on the program.
The Governmental Affairs team looks forward to hosting you this legislative session.
Resources Available to Follow the Legislature
BOISE -There are many resources available to the public to better follow the work of the Idaho Legislature. With the start of the session and additional public interest in government actions and operations, we want to provide a reminder of what is available.
Legislative Website Homepage: https://legislature.idaho.gov/
2022 Legislative Session Bill Center: https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2022/legislation/
List of Senate Committee Assignments: https://legislature.idaho.gov/committees/senatecommittees/
List of House Committee Assignments: https://legislature.idaho.gov/committees/housecommittees/
Current Senate Committee Agendas: https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/agenda/sagenda/
Current House Committee Agendas: https://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/agenda/hagenda/
Watch Committee Meetings and Floor Sessions Live: https://www.idahoptv.org/shows/idahoinsession/Legislature/
Governor’s Bill Action and Legislative Communications: https://gov.idaho.gov/legislative-sessions/2022-legislative-session/
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