What to Watch: Week of February 1

1 Feb 2021, by Seth Grigg Share :

IAC expects at least two bills from the Property Taxes and Revenue Expenditures Study Committee to be introduced this week. One bill seeks to establish a uniform local government accounting and financial reporting manual which will be overseen by a legislative oversight committee and administered by the State Controller’s Office. The proposal will also establish a data repository for local government budget information which will be published on the State Controller’s website. This bill will be introduced in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday, February 1, by Representative Jim Addis (Kootenai County).

The other proposal will be a reintroduction of Senate Bill 1021 by Senator Jim Rice (Canyon County) on either Wednesday or Thursday in the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee. Senate Bill 1021 was pulled by Senator Rice last week due to a drafting error in the bill. The successor bill will likely include similar language capping annual growth in local government property tax budgets at either 3% or 4%.

IAC also expects the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee to take up the Public Defense Commission rules docket on Wednesday, February 3rd. During the hearing, the PDC has agreed to remove portions of the rules that: 

  • Establish independent committees to mediate between boards of county commissioners and public defenders, 
  • Encourage counties to retain outside legal counsel when negotiating public defender contracts, 
  • Establish pay equity between prosecuting attorneys and defending attorneys, and
  • Establish roster registration requirements for newly hired defense attorneys.

We may also see a proposal from the Senate requiring countywide orders issued by a health district to be reviewed by boards of county commissioners prior to implementation. IAC anticipates the Senate version will be much narrower than a proposal introduced last week in the House establishing a process through which any individual adversely impacted by a health district decision could appeal for relief to the board of county commissioners.

Lastly, it’s possible we may see the first of several proposals seeking to increase transportation funding. IAC expects to see several proposals introduced in the coming weeks ranging from using approximately $126 million in surplus general funds for one-time transportation projects on the state and local system to dedicating general funds for ongoing transportation needs.