Friday, February 08, 2008

Rep. Jaquet: Legislative Report Week 5

What a hectic week. Friday was the last day to get bills submitted to afternoon committees. Combine that with the County Winter Conference which featured a speech from Speaker Newt Gingrich, a trip home to vote in the caucus, a presentation to the credit union association, a luncheon with the FFA students and a phone that was drowned by a leaky water bottle and now I’m hoping the roads are open to Ketchum to make it home this weekend.

I’ve had some ups and downs with legislation:

The counties approved, in concept, large generation facility siting legislation. The legislation applies only to merchant plants and creates the opportunity for informed decision making at the local level. This next week I’ll be presenting the concept/draft to the cooperative and municipal utilities that are exempt as are the investor owned utilities.

An attempt at introducing a bill to require renewal portfolio standards at 25% by 2025 will not get a hearing this year.

Affordable workforce home legislation has been dropped off with the House Revenue and Taxation Committee for introduction in the near future. The bills include adding affordable workforce housing as an eligible use for development impact fees, requiring developers to ensure the development of workforce housing or pay a fee in lieu of development, a voter approved proposed tax levy to home owners whose home is valued at $1 million plus and who don’t qualify for the homeowners exemption, and an expansion of county local option sales tax to include affordable workforce housing.

The residential sales price disclosure legislation that was drafted and introduced last year was re-introduced this week in the senate. The hearing should be within a week. A second piece of legislation brought by the Idaho Association of Realtors also addresses this situation in a different way. I would appreciate your comments on both of these. You can find them at, under the Legislation link. The bill numbers are SB1400 and SB1401.

Senator Langhorst re-introduced last year’s legislation to abolish the one mile restriction on who may testify in confined animal feeding operations public hearings. The goal is to get the bill through the House this year. I also have drafted a bill that would provide for mediation between cities and/or counties who have concerns about decisions that cross boundaries.

The grocery tax credit was defeated in committee this week. We’re hoping that a bipartisan solution to decreasing the sales tax on food at the cash register will come forth. Legislators are also working on a new credit bill.

A bill to allow highway districts to increase their levies with a vote of the people is before the House Revenue and Taxation committee. Revenues were frozen many years ago at an artificially low rate and districts are having a hard time keeping up with inflationary costs. The Emergency Communications Commission has asked for a 25 cent increase per month on phones to a maximum of $1.25 to provide grant funding for rural communities who don’t have the population to support the Enhanced 911 systems as well as the ongoing maintenance costs of those systems.

Also introduced for hearing is the Ranch, Farm and Forest Protection Act which would give a tax credit to owners of agricultural and forest land who voluntarily agree not to develop lands important to fish and wildlife. I am supporting all of these bills.

The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) are scheduled to finish up state agency budget hearings on Wednesday, February 13. Budget setting will start on Monday, February 18 and should finish around March 7. Revenues have begun to slide due to the national recession (most now say we are in a recession!) and we’re anticipating some tough decision making.

Thank you for keeping in touch with me. Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Email: or Phone: 1/800/626-0471

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