March 17, 2017
Writer: Yanni Klapsakis

Idaho Senate Moves to Repeal Grocery Sale's Tax

Senator Cliff Bayer of Boise, lead the effort to remove the state's 6 percent sales tax from groceries by successfully holding off a series of amendments proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill of Rexburg.

The bill would phase-out Idaho's current $100-per-person annual grocery tax credit, which Idahoans claim on their income tax returns each year in a two-year period and will replace it with the removal of the sales tax from food.

This new version of house bill 67 still needs passage as amended in the senate, concurrence in the house to the senate amendments, and the governor's signature to become law.

Rep. Nate Clarifies Mispoken Comment

Representative Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, reportedly said he thinks Idaho teachers are overpaid, even after actively pushing for higher salaries for teachers. The audio of the floor session where his microphone was left on during some down time in the session this week, you can hear him say, "We all know our districts, we know there are some teachers there that are clearly overpaid."  

When listening to the context of his discussion it becomes clear he misspoke. He explained to BYU-Idaho Radio, "I guess in the middle of that conversation somewhere I said we all know in our districts, there're some teachers -- and I said overpaid -- but I clearly meant underpaid because that was the whole tenor of the conversation."

Listen to his clarification about the statement below:

Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences Spark Lengthy Debate

The Idaho House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee listened to more than four hours of testimony about mandatory minimum drug sentences. Prosecutors, public defenders, former drug users and others testified.

Idaho Senate Talks Short-Term Rentals

The Senate debated a bill that defines short-term or vacation rentals. It's a hot issue in the state, especially in eastern Idaho where the total solar eclipse is happening in August and cities like Rexburg are trying to figure out how to accomodate the estimated 50,000 to 500,000 people who will come to watch it.



Abortion Restriction Reversal Bill Heads to Idaho Senate Floor

The bill that reverses two abortion restrictions in Idaho now heads to the Idaho Senate floor for debate.



Legislature Holds First Climate Change Hearing

The House Democratic Caucus held the first-ever hearing on climate change in the Idaho Legislature. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, who was the primary organizer of the hearing, addressed the 500 attendants and took testimony by Idaho scientists, economists, business leaders and wildfire managers. Rubel said explained the reason she organized the hearing was because climate change is a large problem, and it seems the federal government is not willing to do anything about it.

Senate Committee Kills Early Voting Reduction

If passed, the early voting reduction bill would have restricted the ability counties have to hold early voting. However, a coalition of Democrats, some Republicans, counties and civil liberties advocates said it would reduce ballot access and therefore strongly opposed the bill. Eventually, the Senate State Affairs Committee killed the bill Wednesday.

Massage Therapy Standards Bill Killed in Senate

The bill that was proposed by the state Bureau of Occupational Licenses and would have authorized the state Board of Massage Therapy to review and approve curriculum standards for massage therapy schools died in the Idaho Senate Monday by a 14-20 vote. The bill passed the House on a 39-30 vote earlier this legislative session.

Rep. Tom Loertscher Introduces Public Meetings Expansion Bill

Currently, according to Idaho code, the public meetings law applies to all government entities created by statute. However, so far, it hasn't applied to commissions created by an executive order. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone, sponsored a bill that would open a host of government commissions to public meetings. The bill will first go to House floor and then if it passes, to the Senate.

House Republicans Introduce New Health Plan

Republican members of the Idaho House introduced draft legislation that seeks to address shortages in primary care, and cost cuts across the state health care system. The proposal, if passed, will be state-funded and will preserve the state's options for seeking federal assistance under the existing or revised federal health care framework.

Fish & Game Fees Hike Heads to Senate Floor

The bill which will introduce the first fee hike in more than a decade for the Department of Fish & Game, passed the Senate Resources and Conservation Committee and now will head to the Senate floor.