Capitol Reflections: 2023 Session, Issue 12
By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs
“One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.” -Charles Austin Beard
Property Tax Relief Bill Becomes Law Despite Veto
Two Farm Bureau policies were implemented with the legislature’s override of Governor Little’s veto of H292. IFBF policy #102 opposes shifting property taxes to agricultural land by increasing the homeowner’s exemption, and policy #114.2 supports eliminating the odd March election date.
H292 successfully provides property tax relief without shifting any taxes. It also eliminates the March election date used by schools to run bonds and levies.
While the votes to override were not quite as robust as the original votes to pass the bill, both chambers easily surpassed the 2/3 vote needed to override a veto. It was largely a party-line vote to override, although Rep Greg Lanting (R-Twin Falls) was the lone Republican to oppose the override.
A veto override is a rare occurrence in Idaho, despite having a supermajority of Republicans in both chambers of the legislature. The last successful veto override occurred in 2007, when the Legislature overrode then Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of a bill banning smoking in bowling alleys. Previously, in 2002, lawmakers overrode then Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s veto of a bill repealing Idaho’s term-limits law.
According to the Idaho Education News: “Despite being on the losing side of the veto override, Little claimed victory in a Wednesday afternoon news release. He hailed lawmakers for passing “simpler” and “enduring” tax relief, while addressing his concerns about funding road projects. The 309-word news release made no mention of the March school election date.”
H292 will provide targeted property tax relief to all Idaho homeowners which will show up on your annual tax notice as a credit labeled “tax relief appropriated by the legislature.” This relief is funded by 2.25% of Idaho sales tax, as well as some one-time monies and a portion of any surplus tax revenues each year.
H292 also provides modest tax relief to all property owners by earmarking approximately $100 million to go to every school district in the state based upon their average daily attendance. This money comes from an additional 2.25% of Idaho sales tax, and additional one-time monies and potential surplus taxes. The schools must use this money to directly reduce the amount they collect in property tax to pay for school bonds and/or levies. If they do not have any bonds or levies, they can use that stream of income to bond against for future projects.
Farm Bureau would like to thank all Farm Bureau members who contacted their legislators and asked them to vote to override the veto. This effort likely would not have been successful without your engagement.
Farm Bureau would also like to thank the sponsors of H292, Speaker Mike Moyle (R-Star), Rep Jason Monks (R-Meridian), Senator Scott Grow (R-Eagle) and Senator Doug Ricks (R-Rexburg) for recognizing the importance of avoiding a shift in taxes when providing property tax relief, and for their tireless efforts on this major project. IFBF supports H292.
Rules Review Revamp Becomes Reality
Finally, after years of effort, the Legislature has approved a bill to require that proposed rules will have to pass the same level of scrutiny and approval as proposed laws prior to becoming effective. Despite concerns that Governor Little would veto the bill, he has allowed it to become effective without his signature. A seldom used move that signals he is not happy with the bill but did not veto it either.
H206a requires that a proposed rule must be approved by both the House and Senate before it becomes effective. Currently, only one chamber is required to approve a proposed rule before it goes into effect. IFBF policy has long supported making this change. This is a big step forward in ensuring that proposed rules are in conformance with the law that it is attempting to implement and that it is workable for the regulated community.
H206a also does a good job of clarifying definitions, simplifying processes, and bringing greater transparency to the rulemaking process. This will be a benefit for the regulated stakeholders as well as the agencies themselves. IFBF thanks Speaker Moyle (R-Star), Rep Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens), Senator Anthon (R-Burley) and Pro Tem Winder (R-Boise) for their support and leadership in getting H206a across the finish line after years of diligent effort.
Lava Ridge Resolution Adopted
Last week the Senate voted to adopt HCR4 regarding the Lava Ridge Wind Project. The resolution expresses the state’s concerns with the project and urges the Governor and Attorney General to pursue all legal means to stop it from moving forward. The project is currently under review as part of the BLM’s NEPA process. Public comment is currently being received by the federal agency regarding their Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
IFBF Policy #81 supports the development of cost-effective alternative energy; however, we also support county control in the siting of these projects. Each of the local county Farm Bureaus in the proposed area of impact has publicly opposed the project and would support the “No Action Alternative” (Alternative A). Idaho Farm Bureau supports the positions of our County Farm Bureaus and asks that you tell the BLM to choose the “No Action Alternative”.
Farm Bureau has created an Action Alert to encourage and facilitate folks providing comments to BLM regarding the Lava Ridge Wind Project. Follow the link to the Action Alert to provide your thoughts on the project.
Water Infrastructure Funding Signed into Law
The funding bill H361 for water infrastructure projects was passed by the legislature last week and was recently signed into law by the Governor. A special signing ceremony was held to mark the significance of the large state investment. Idaho Farm Bureau was invited to participate in the ceremony and was represented by Vice President, Richard Durrant.
IFBF is appreciative of the work by our elected officials in proposing and passing such an investment in Idaho water infrastructure. Idaho families, communities, and industries have benefited from the investments of our forefathers who built many of the systems that we all depend on. Farm Bureau members appreciate the state’s further investment in these critical water systems and hope to see the money used wisely on a variety of important projects around the state.
As a reminder, H361 provides for the appropriation and transfer of $150,000,000 from the General Fund to the Water Management Fund for larger water projects. The bill directs the Idaho Water Resource Board to use the funds on efforts to address water sustainability, enhancement, and the modernization of surface water delivery systems. Additionally, the money can be used to rehabilitate or improve aging water infrastructure, flood management, and other water infrastructure projects.
H361 also provides dollars to further address water quality issues throughout the state. The bill provides $2,000,000 to the Agricultural Best Management Practices Fund (Ag BMP Fund), and $5,000,000 to the Confined Animal Feeding Operations Fund (CAFO Fund).
SNAP Work Requirements Bill is now Law
H161 has passed both chambers and is now law. As laid out in its statement of purpose, the bill closes three loopholes in Idaho’s SNAP (food stamp) program and provides more oversight to the Idaho legislature. This bill limits the Department of Health and Welfare's ability to waive work requirements for the SNAP program by implementing the following provisions: 1) it would not allow the department to use geographic waivers without the legislature's expressed approval; 2) it prohibits the use of no-good-cause exemptions; and 3) it implements mandatory employment and training for all able-bodied enrollees in food stamps.
IFBF members have policy in support of welfare reform, specifically focusing on reducing the use of welfare and emphasizing work programs for individuals. It is believed that people should productively engage in providing for their own sustainability to the best of their ability. There is value in the sense of accomplishment and pride one feels when they are able to actively and productively engage in the workforce to provide for their needs and the needs of their dependents, that should not be overlooked.
H161 provides a mechanism for individuals who are in need of assistance to obtain it, while still encouraging the able-bodied to be engaged in the workforce or employment training. Providing employment training and work programs is a way to assist further in enabling individuals to grow and feel confident which is important to pave the path out of welfare dependency. This is a good step forward, especially during this time of historically low unemployment.
IFBF Policy #165 supports H161.
Grizzly Delisting Memorial Passes Both Chambers
HJM5 has passed both chambers and will be forwarded to Washington D.C. to the designated recipients. The House voted for the memorial with a 60-6-4 vote and the Senate with a 30-4-1 vote. Thank you to our two floor sponsors, Representative Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) and Senator Scott Herndon (R-Sagle) for carrying the legislation.
The memorial came about thanks to the hard work and attention of IFBF members who have been following the grizzly bear issue for years. Between the work of our members and collaboration with state departments, a memorial was drafted that supported the state’s move to petition the delisting of grizzly bears off of the ESA list and allowed for the state legislature to add their voice to the issue alongside the Governor’s office and our Congressional Delegates.
HJM5 lays out many points that were included in Idaho’s petition to delist as well as pointing out the concern over increasing conflicts we see occurring in our Idaho communities between bears ,humans and livestock. There is an obvious need for the state to be able to manage this recovered species and proof that Idaho is in a position to take over management of the species from the Federal government as well. The final requests in the memorial are three-fold. First, that Congress take action to delist this recovered species. Second, that United States Fish and Wildlife Services and Department of Interior overturn their petition findings and move forward with Idaho’s petition to delist the entire lower 48 states. Third, that it is recognized that the state and its agencies are best positioned to manage the bears within Idaho and to protect its sovereignty on this issue, the state reserves the ability to bring or otherwise participate in litigation, if necessary.
IFBF is thankful for all the hard work of our grassroots members who have specifically invested in this issue and our legislative sponsors that helped carry the memorial forward. We are also thankful for the collaboration that Idaho Fish and Game Department and IFBF had over the Joint Memorial to continue the push for delisting on the federal level and gaining state management for Idaho.
IFBF Policy #69.1 supports HJM5.
Legislature Adjourns Sine Die!
On Thursday, April 6th, the Legislature adjourned Sine Die (Latin for without day) and officially concluded their work of the regular session this year. This was one week after the original target date for adjournment; however, considering the very slow start to the session, the two days taken off for important funeral services (Governor Phil Batt and Representative Dale Raybould), and a very large freshman class, it could have been much later. Idaho does not have a set date to adjourn, which always makes it a guessing game on when the legislature will wrap up its business for the year.
The adjournment came after a five-day recess by both the Senate and the House to wait on the Governor to sign the remaining bills into law. This year there were 595 bills and 40 memorials and resolutions introduced, with roughly half of all of those actually becoming law or being adopted.
Idaho Farm Bureau had another successful year representing our member’s policy positions before the legislature. Topics such as property tax, water administration, infrastructure funding, grizzly bears, noxious weeds, and ESG, amongst others were areas where IFBF had significant success. Additionally, Farm Bureau was able to push back on proposals that would jeopardize property rights, increase the minimum wage, shift additional property tax burden on agricultural property, and other concerning proposals. This session still left more work to be done in some areas including restricted driver’s licenses, efforts to restrict the state from doing business with entities that boycott agriculture and other natural resource industries, and electric vehicle taxes.
Farm Bureau appreciates the efforts of the legislature for the work that was accomplished in this session. We especially thank those legislators that worked closely with the IFBF Governmental Affairs team and our members to implement Farm Bureau policy. The trust and relationship between legislators and our organization with its members will only continue to benefit Idaho families, communities, and industries moving forward. Farm Bureau looks forward to working together to accomplish our shared goals.
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