Legislative Update - District 25 January 29, 2016

An update from District 25 -  Rep. Bell & Rep. Kauffman

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Idaho State Legislture

January 29, 2016

A Week of Education Budget Hearings:

Since the beginning of this session, the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) has been meeting each morning to hear budget requests from the state agencies of Idaho.  This week’s hearings were devoted to the Education budgets.  Some of the presenters in JFAC included:

The State Board of Education

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Community Colleges

University of Idaho

               Agricultural Research & Extension Services

               Forest Utilization Research

               Geological Survey

               Health Education Programs

Boise State University

Idaho State University

Lewis-Clark State College

Public School Support

Services for the Deaf & Blind

Professional-Technical Education

STEM Action Center

Idaho Public Television

School Choice Rally

School choice rally draws big crowd on Capitol steps

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27, 2016

Eye on Boise

By Betsy Russell


Hundreds of students and families are gathered on the steps of the Statehouse to celebrate School Choice Week with an annual rally and signature yellow scarves…


Click Here for the complete story.

A note from Senator Jim Patrick:

I have the privilege of being the chair of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee.

Before session I co-chaired the CEC committee to determine the salary and benefits for the state employees. We will make a recommendation to Joint Finance & Appropriations Committee (JAFC) in February so they can budget and approve or disapprove our recommendations.

We have many RS hearings lined up in all three of my committees so will be very busy in the months going forward.

The Ag Committee will be meeting with the director of agriculture concerning invasive species, Quadra Mussels in particular and the federal matching funds that are available.

The Education committee is also very busy with rules and presentations.  I will introduce a change to my Civics bill from last year dealing with the questions all immigrants who want citizenship must know. The change is so some students that need extra help through school will have the opportunity to learn in a different manner.


A note from Rep. Clark Kauffman:


Attended a meeting with the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs.  Dancers from St. Mary’s School


I found the potato truck!!


There has been discussion about HB 354 and concern it is redefining the definition of marriage in Idaho.  HB 354 is a tax conformity bill that aligns Idaho tax code with the Federal tax code, something we have done every year except one in recent history.


This year’s conformity bill removes section (c) from IC 63-3004 because the Supreme Court ruled that an individual benefit (in this case tax deductions, credits and other benefits) offered to one person cannot be withheld from another. All this bill does is recognize the process of establishing adjusted gross income for state tax calculation is the same as for federal tax returns. The Idaho Constitutional definition of marriage remains.



Because of concerns by some about the removal of section (c), HB 345 was returned to the Rev & Tax Committee and a new RS was presented on Friday morning.  Unlike the previous version of the bill, which struck a now-voided paragraph added to the law in 2014 requiring same-sex couples who file joint federal tax returns to recalculate their taxes and file separately in Idaho, the new version leaves that clause on the books. But it adds another sentence after it, saying, “Notwithstanding subsection C of this section, marriages recognized and permitted by the United States Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals shall also be recognized for purposes of the Idaho Income Tax Act.”


I attended a lunch with Idaho Coop Council/FFA Cenarrusa Day and visited with some great FFA young people and advisors.  Kimberly, Filer, Buhl, Jerome and Castleford were in the crowd of about 600 FFA leaders.

I had a committee hearing on my bill HB 372 giving the state primacy on restricting or taxing auxiliary containers such as disposal plastic bags, boxes, cups etc.  It was sent to the floor with a due pass recommendation.

The Assn. of Idaho Cities had their winter meeting in Boise and I visited with city officials from Buhl, Filer, Kimberly and Twin Falls.

I attended the Idaho Chamber Alliance lunch and visited with Magic Valley Chamber officials.

I met with the students and teachers of Heritage Academy and presented them with an Idaho flag that was flown over the Capitol in honor of their school.  The flag was a gift from Sen. Patrick, Rep. Bell and Rep. Kauffman.


This session I have joined a walking competition called Steps for Schools, which is sponsored y the High Five Children’s Health Collaborative.  During the month of February, many legislators and I are working to walk and be active each day.  We are also taking steps to get educated about the current state of childhood health in Idaho.  At the end of the month, the three legislators with the most steps will earn $3000, $2000 or $1000 respectively for a school in their district.  You can check in on our progress by visiting the Steps for School webpage.


Other meetings and contacts this week included:

Idaho Community Bankers

Soil Conservation Districts

Idaho Travel Council

Idaho Academy of Family Physicians

Boise State University

Idaho Auto Body Craftsman Assn.

Idaho Potato Commission

University of Idaho

Idaho Counseling Association

Idaho State University



A note from Rep. Maxine Bell:


I have been fortunate to visit with the Capstone

students each year and explain the Joint Finance

and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) process

to the leaders of tomorrow.


We can only listen and gather facts for so long before the JFAC group needs to get down to business, so we are starting with some budget corrections to the funding we passed last session  as we continue,  the hearing process. 


We began last week with a full schedule for the budgets that provide health and welfare services.  On this, the last week in January, we are spending each day hearing education budget requests. 

The general fund history of how we spend the revenues in Idaho shows the largest five budget requests make up 85% of requests, and the largest thirteen make up 93.7% of the total general fund.  This week and last will cover 77 percent of the total budget.


One in every three Idahoans received some type of service from the Health and Welfare budget.  Most of the services are to children, aged, or disabled.  As the long economic downturn lingered, our region of the state had about 24,000 people using food stamps to supplement their income. With more jobs available, the average time on food stamp assistance is 13 months.


The county indigent fund is also showing fewer residents who need assistance from the county and the state.  It would seem that the Idaho Health Exchange has been working as it should to help many find affordable insurance.  And a final note from the Welfare hearings are the facts about the Idaho children who need the services of the state.  On any given day, there are 1300 children in foster care, many with “kin” usually grandparents.  After every effort to strengthen families, the state does 215 adoptions a year


Our own Community College was before the committee this Wednesday during Education Week.  All three community colleges provide basic education, job training skills, and community outreach.  As Cliff Bar breaks ground in Twin Falls, CSI will be providing the proper training for the good jobs that each new business will bring to the valley.  This is certainly a two-edged sword.  For the past two years as our economy has become stronger, those in high education have felt the brunt of diminished funds.  The number of students is down and the state funds for the student count. One of our budget efforts this year will be to replace s portion of that lost funding.  Fewer students does not mean the infrastructure can be dismantled.  The College of Southern Idaho provides duel credit to students in 32 counties and 64 High Schools.  The cost of the credit is provided by the state at $65.00 per credit.  This is a tremendous savings to our students in both time and money.  For those students attending the professional classes such as welding, food processing, and law enforcement, the college has a 93% placement record.  The state goal is to have every High School Senior know that the funding help is available as is the necessary counseling.  Idaho has 40% of our youth go on to achieve a degree or certification beyond high school.  The goal is to have 60% by 2020. 

One of the new programs from the State Board of Education is to allow high school students direct admission into our higher educational institutions.  The letter to those with reasonable grades states “Keep Calm, You are Admitted”.  And on a final note on this week of education information, one of the recommendations in the governor’s budget is for $5 million more in scholarship funds.  I am looking for those dollars it now!!   


Senator Jim Patrick

Senator Jim Patrick

District 25


     CHAIR - Commerce &

               Human Resources

     Agricultural Affairs



Rep. Bell

Rep. Maxine Bell

District 25 - Seat A


     CHAIR - Appropriations

     Agricultural Affairs


Clark Kauffman

Rep. Clark Kauffman

District 25 - Seat B



     Revenue & Taxation

     Transportation & Defense





Office Address

State Capitol
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0081
(208) 332-1120