Protecting Those Who Protect Us

On March 12, 2019 Governor Brad Little signed SB 1028, a law that helps protect our brave first responders from some of the incredible stress and trauma they face at the job every day. While the bill did have overwhelming support from the Majority, there were still concerns that weighed heavily on a few members, some of them first responders themselves. They worried that the bill just didn’t cover enough of those affected by PTSI and that it didn’t have a clear funding path to ensure increased coverage. The House Republican Caucus believes this is a great first step, but there is more that can be done to provide even better support for the men and women who put themselves at risk to protect and save Idahoans.

Supporting A Better Referendum Process

The Idaho House Republican Caucus supports SB 1159 concepts to expand voter involvement in the initiative and referendum process. The legislation increases the number of districts needed to get an issue on the ballot from 18 to 32, leveling the playing field for rural communities by giving them a bigger voice in the process and not allowing more urban communities to dictate.

SB 1159 provides for more information for voters:

  • A proposed funding source
  • A non-binding fiscal impact statement
  • A single source ballot issue

“We have a legislative responsibility to look at policy to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all Idahoans,” said Representative Monks. “These new requirements will not hinder the referendum process; it will only create more concise standards for statewide ballot questions.”

Defending the 2nd Amendment

We continued our defense of the 2nd amendment on Thursday, by passing a bill that will allow Idahoans ages 18-21 to carry concealed weapons inside city limits. The bill is an amendment to legislation that already allows Idahoans 18 and older to carry a concealed weapon anywhere else in the state.

The bill now goes to the Senate for further action.

Long-Standing Compromise Needs to be Honored

During the Capitol renovation and restoration in 2008 Legislative leadership at the time and former Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter struck a deal to eliminate the expense of adding a second level in the underground wings, reducing its request for a needed 50,000 square feet of space down to 25,000 square feet. The negotiated compromise gave the Executive Branch control of the entire second floor and ceded the first, third and fourth to the Legislative Branch. (see Idaho Statute 67-1602)

Even though the statue (67-1602) was changed in 2007, House leadership allowed former Treasurer Ron Crane the opportunity to continue to remain in his office on the first floor on a temporary basis or until his retirement. Now the House is simply asking the Treasurer’s office to adhere to the existing law while still allowing the ceremonial office, where the historic vault is located, to remain. The move will allow for easier access for those doing business with the Treasurer’s office by consolidating staff to a single more accessible location.

“As leader of the House of Representatives, it is my duty to abide by the agreement and we are at a point that House members need the additional space to conduct the people’s business. We needed the space when the renovations were happening, but the House graciously waited. Now our state is growing, and the elected officials need offices that will allow them to conduct meetings with their constituents and an ability to get the people’s work completed in an even more efficient manner,” explained Speaker of the House, Scott Bedke.

Currently the Attorney General and Secretary of State hold ceremonial offices in the Capitol but much of their staff are in other state buildings. The Controller has completely relocated, as has the Idaho Supreme Court.

The Idaho House of Representatives is asking Idaho State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth to not stall a negotiated compromise set more than a decade ago in an effort to save taxpayers money during the remodel.

Cracking down on Uninsured Drivers

We’re trying to make the roads safer for everyone, by cracking down on uninsured drivers. House Bill 179a passed the House 54-15 on Wednesday.

Right now, Idaho drivers are required to have liability insurance, but the state wasn’t actually checking to make sure that was the case. This measure fixes that. It directs the DMV to begin cross-checking its vehicle registration and insurance databases, by January 1, to ensure that all drivers have liability insurance. If a driver can’t provide proof of insurance, their registration will be suspended. They’ll have to pay a fee to get their car registered again, and the funds from those fees should cover the cost of the program.

Speaker Scott Bedke debated in favor of the bill, noting that uninsured motorists drive up insurance rates for all of us.

The bill is now in the Senate, waiting for further action.

 

Did you know that Idaho farms feed 165 people a day?

Thursday, March 14, 2019 we celebrated National Ag Day! Our state has 25,000 farms and ranches that produce more than 185 different commodities.