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Capitol Reflections: 2022 Session, Issue 2

By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs



“A lie doesn’t become the truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.” Booker T. Washington

IFBF Legislative/ Commodity Conference 

BOISE - Idaho Farm Bureau will be hosting its annual Legislative and Commodity Conference in Boise, February 8-9th. All members are encouraged to participate and learn more about the legislative process and how Farm Bureau policy is implemented at the statehouse. Opportunities include a call with Congressional offices, an agency review session and our Annual Legislative Dinner.

This dinner is where the real connections are made. Our members can share a conversation and a meal with their district’s lawmakers. While making friendly conversation they are also able to bring up topics they feel directly affect not only them but most Idaho families.

New this year to the conference as we visit the Idaho State Capitol building is the option of a statehouse tour and sitting in on committee hearings and the floor sessions of the House or Senate.

Registration for the conference closes on January 25th.  Registration can be completed HERE



Tax Cut Bill Moves Forward

BOISE - Earlier this week the House Revenue and Taxation Committee approved H436 on a party line vote.  H436 does two things, it cuts both the top marginal personal income tax rate as well as the corporate income tax rate from 6.5% to 6%., along with lowering other brackets slightly. It also provides for a tax rebate to all Idaho income tax filers of approximately 12% of their 2020 income tax paid, or $75 per taxpayer and dependent, whichever is greater.

At the hearing, several business organizations testified in favor of the tax reduction, while a few individual citizens spoke in opposition to the bill.  Their comments were essentially the same indicating that rather than giving the excess tax money back to those who were over-taxed, the state should invest more in education and infrastructure needs.

Out of the massive $1.9 billion tax surplus (over-taxation) that the state is experiencing this year, the ongoing income tax cut will reduce state income tax revenues by an estimated $250 million per year, while the tax rebate will reduce the surplus by approximately $350 million one-time.  Therefore, there is still more than $1.3 billion left to address other needs.  In fact, in Governor Little’s State of the State address, he recommended massive spending for education, including a 10% pay raise, a $1,000 bonus for all teachers, significant buy-downs for educator’s health insurance premiums, and several new education programs.  Altogether, Governor Little proposes spending an additional $1.1 billion over the next five years in education funding.

He further proposed spending an additional $200 million every year to address transportation maintenance and another $200 million in one-time funds to address about one-third of the bridges in need of repair across the state.  With several other proposals with large price-tags, the money goes quickly, so the Legislature will need to keep their pencils sharp as they wade through all the large-ticket proposals.

Today, the full House voted on H436 and it passed on a vote of 57-13.  It will now move to the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee chaired by Senator Jim Rice (R-Caldwell).  IFBF policy supports reductions in tax rates.  IFBF supports H436.



Ag. Committees Approve ISDA Rules

BOISE - Since the end of last week, both the Senate and House Agricultural Affairs Committees have been working hard to review and approve ISDA’s administrative rules. It is customary for the Legislature to take the first few weeks of each session to review rule changes from each state agency in the corresponding legislative committee to ensure they are consistent with the intent of the law.

Due to the actions of last year’s legislative session, all rules are up for approval this year. Additionally, as part of the Governor’s Zero-Based Regulations Executive Order, ISDA brought forward other sections of rules that went through additional analysis, scrutiny, and amending. Some of these rules included changes to the state’s raw milk program regarding inspections and labeling requirements, and others dealing with nutrient management for CAFOs in accordance with statutory changes from last year.

In addition, ISDA also presented the state rules governing industrial hemp production and processing in the state. In compliance with H126 passed by the Legislature last year, the Department established rules to regulate a state hemp program and created a state hemp plan to be approved by USDA. Having achieved USDA approval and the state regulatory framework now in place, ISDA has begun issuing hemp production and processing licenses. For those interested in Idaho’s industrial hemp program and regulatory requirements, please visit:

As each committee concludes its rules review, they will begin turning their attention to new pieces of legislation and reports from commodity commissions. 


Water Users Establish Priorities

BOISE - The Idaho Water Users Association held its 85th Annual Convention in Boise this week to establish its legislative priorities and receive important information regarding matters of interest for the organization. Among its priorities are topics of interest for the Farm Bureau. Most notably is our mutual support for water infrastructure investment/funding, using both surplus state revenue dollars and federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars.

As part of the Governor’s proposed budget, the Idaho Water Resource Board (IWRB), who oversees the state’s investment in water projects, would receive $75 million of one-time funding from the state general fund, and $250 million from the state’s ARPA funding. U.S. Treasury guidance limits the types of projects that ARPA dollars can be used for; nonetheless, several of the already identified large water projects in the state, such as the Anderson Ranch Dam raise, the Mountain Home Airforce Base drinking water project, and upper valley ESPA recharge projects, would all qualify for funding use. This will allow the IWRB to stretch the remaining dollars to fund other important projects.

The Governor also proposed several million dollars to be administered by DEQ in the form of grants to aid farmers and ranchers in implementing best management practices. $70 million of ARPA funding, and $20 million from the general fund would go to addressing water quality issues in the state’s watersheds.

Aside from this state funding, additional federal dollars may also be available to water delivery entities throughout the state through dollars appropriated by Congress to the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was recently passed, BOR received direction to spend $8.3 billion on projects that span the topics of surface and groundwater storage, aging infrastructure improvement and maintenance, water recycling/reuse, rural water systems, desalination, dam safety, watershed management and health, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.

Farm Bureau supports investment in the state’s water infrastructure and looks forward to working with legislators as they prioritize this funding in the state’s budget.




Stretching Transportation Dollars

BOISE -Governor Little has recommended that $200 million be earmarked to upgrade bridges across the state.  According to the Governor “Idaho has 966 local bridges that are more than 50 years old, and many that are closed or have restrictions that impede commerce. This investment package will allow local governments to improve approximately one-third of these deficient bridges to improve safety for all Idahoans.”  Fortunately, no taxes are proposed to be raised under this proposal.

IFBF has met with Senator Lori Den Hartog (R-Meridian) and Representative Joe Palmer (R-Meridian), who each chair the Senate and House Transportation Committees respectively.  Our discussion revolved around ensuring that this investment is used as efficiently as possible.  We appreciate the allocation of current tax revenues towards upgrades to our transportation infrastructure that does not result in any increased taxes.  However, we want to make sure that every dollar is used in the most effective way, so we can accomplish as much as possible with this investment.

Therefore, we shared with the Transportation Chairmen a report highlighting bridge replacement innovations that have demonstrated significant cost savings in either construction costs, lifetime maintenance costs, or both.  These are real-world examples of fully engineered, innovative methods for bridge replacement projects that were located in rural areas across the nation.

The report was published by the Soy Transportation Coalition which, just like the Idaho Farm Bureau, is looking to promote ways to save time and money in transportation construction projects so we can get more bang for our buck.  Who knows, maybe we can actually upgrade 40% or more of our bridges with the same money rather than just 33%, or more likely 20%.  It will certainly help if these proven ideas are fully explored and utilized where possible and practical.

Both Chairmen were intrigued and appreciated the information since they are both very interested in ensuring that any transportation dollars which are allocated are used in the most effective manner.  IFBF policy #150 supports the continued improvement of Idaho’s agricultural roadways and utilizing revenue sources efficiently to maintain and construct Idaho roads.


COVID Liability Protection Extension

BOISE - House Judiciary and Rules Committee has introduced a bill extending the sunset date on the employer COVID liability protection bill that was passed by the legislature during the special session in August of 2020. Despite employers doing everything they could to protect their employees and provide a safe work environment, there was still potential liability for disease transmission when it came to COVID. The original bill was the solution for this concern.

The bill provided protection from liability for all claims of exposure and transmission of coronavirus except those involving intentional, willful or reckless misconduct. It did not require the employer to implement any particular preventative measures. The bill had a sunset date when the protections would expire. That date was extended last session by another year.

H444 this year continues to extend the liability protection, setting a new expiration date of July 1, 2023. This will continue to provide protection for employers as we still deal with the repercussions of the pandemic. IFBF Beliefs and philosophy supports H444.