What to Watch For: Jan. 31 – Feb. 4

31 Jan 2022, by Sara Westbrook Share :

Proposed Changes to Circuit Breaker Eligibility

Last year, House Bill 389 changed the Property Tax Relief (PTR) eligibility requirements by adding restrictions that disallow residents from qualifying if their homes are valued over 125% of the median residential property value of the county. With this change, many previous qualifiers are no longer eligible.

House Bill 481 sponsored by Representative Charlie Shepherd (District 7) and Senate Bill 1241 sponsored by Senator Regina Bayer (District 21) both proposed bills last week that would adjust the median home value percentage used to qualify. House Bill 481 would raise the percentage for qualification to 150% or $300,000 home value; whichever is greater. Senate Bill 1241 would raise the median home value to 200% of the median residential property tax value of the county. This would greatly reduce those who would no longer qualify under House Bill 389 while keeping some restrictions in place to prevent a few bad apples attempting to take advantage of the system. We expect more bills on this issue to come as the session progresses.

On Tuesday, February 1 at 3 p.m., Senate Local Government and Taxation is tentatively scheduled to hear Senate Bill 1241. Senator Bayer reached out asking for counties to attend and testify in support of the bill. If you would like to testify, you will need to sign-up online regardless of whether you plan to testify in-person or remotely. Please also encourage others who will be directly affected by the changes to the Circuit Breaker to sign-up in support of Senate Bill 1241. You can sign up to testify by visiting the link below. Then click on the tab that says “Testimony Registration (Remote & In Person).”

Testimony Registration

Please let Sara Westbrook know if you are interested in testifying. If you need any help, Sara is happy to provide aid on testimony prep. You can reach her via email swestbrook@idcounties.org or on her cell phone 208-695-6733.

Here is a brief overview on providing Public Testimony courtesy of Idaho’s Legislature page:

Public Testimony Overview

Idaho has an open legislative process.  All committee action on Administrative Rules and legislation that has been assigned a bill number is conducted in open session. Once one of the above items has been introduced, it is assigned to a standing committee for study and consideration.  The committee Chairman determines when it is scheduled for a hearing.  Public testimony is permitted at most committee meetings.

Legislative committee meetings are generally informal, but it is important that you follow the guidelines and protocols below.

Before a Committee Meeting

Find out which committee(s) will be hearing your bill(s). This information is found on the Senate and House committee agendas published to the legislative website.  Or by contacting Senate and House committee staff.

Be prepared. Plan your testimony; you will be more effective if you have prepared what you plan to say.

If the committee is having a meeting where they will allow remote testimony, then sign up on the public testimony registration tab of the committee web page ahead of time. The committee agenda will provide a link to the public testimony registration tab of the committee web page. There you will find a link to register to testify.

During a Committee Meeting

Be on time. Meeting agendas will list the physical location of the meeting within the capitol.

The Chairman will announce when a specific bill is coming up for discussion. The bill sponsor will be the first person to speak.  Once that person is done the Chairman will open the floor to public testimony and will call on members of the public.  Often times the Chairman will alternate between a proponent and an opponent of a bill.

All testimony and all committee discussion must be addressed through the Chairman.

Begin your testimony by addressing the Chairman and committee members. State your name, address, and why you are there.  For example: “Mr. (or Madam) Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Pat Q. Public, I’m from Emmett.  I am/am not in favor of this bill because…”

Be courteous and brief in your language and address. Try not to repeat testimony offered by previous testifiers.  Be prepared to answer questions.  Respond to questions as best you can.  You need not be embarrassed if you do not have a specific answer.

Do not be nervous – there is no right or wrong way to testify. The Idaho legislature is made up of your friends, neighbors, and community members who have been elected to represent you.  They want to hear what you have to say.

Demonstrations, applause, clapping, and signage are prohibited during a committee meeting. You may be asked to leave by the committee Chairman if you participate in disruptive activities.

Legislators on the committee may enter and exit throughout the meeting as they fulfill other commitments, do not be offended if a member leaves when you are speaking.

Remember

Legislators want to hear from you. Your input is important to them and they appreciate your interest in Idaho’s legislative process.

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