County officials should keep eyes on three items this week. First, The Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee will likely meet on either Wednesday (27th) or Thursday (28th) to hear Senate Bill 1021. Senate Bill 1021 proposes an annual cap on local government property tax increases of 3% for those entities that have new construction growth less than 2% and 4% for those entities that have new construction growth greater than 2%. The new annual caps include base budget increases, new construction increases, and any previously forgone property taxes. Additionally, those entities with growth in excess of 2% new construction would see base budget growth capped at the annual change in CPI up to 3%.
Second, we’ll likely begin seeing legislation relating to health district authority introduced either this week or next week. IAC is aware of a variety of proposals, including a proposal to grant a board of county commissioners authority to override countywide public health orders issued by a health district, a proposal to make violations of public health district orders an infraction (currently misdemeanors), as well as a proposal to require that at least one county commissioner from each county serve on district health boards. Once official legislation is introduced, IAC will make sure it is circulated to county officials for review.
Lastly, we’ll likely see an escalation in the debate between the House, Senate, and Governor’s office over how and when to end the COVID emergency order. Both the House and Senate have introduced separate measures to end the current emergency order. Governor Little remains resolute in his position that the emergency order must remain in place, siting the emergency declaration as a tool that has enabled Idaho to “quickly cut red tape and increase healthcare access” and must remain in place to allow Idaho to have access to federal resources to enable the safe rollout of vaccines as well as other funds to help with the state’s ongoing COVID mitigation efforts. Governor Little went on to state that “some in the Idaho Legislature are perpetuating that myth and actively seeking to end Idaho’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.”Adding “the actions of the Idaho Legislature severely jeopardize our ability to roll out vaccines and bring the pandemic to an end in Idaho.” You can read the full transcript from Governor Little’s Friday press conference here.
In response to Governor Little’s press conference, the House GOP Caucus released the following statement:
“Members of the House Republican Caucus will continue to work to address the concerns of the Idaho families whom they represent. The inflammatory comments from the Governor’s office do nothing but complicate the process. The life-altering concerns revolving around the COVID-19 emergency continue to be in the front of our minds. Our members are working on various forms of legislation to help the state on its road to the recovery that Idahoans have been demanding for months and we call on the Governor to work with us in this process.”
The Senate Republican Caucus also released a statement following the Governor’s press conference. The Senate GOP Caucus statement reads as follows:
“We appreciate the Governor’s concerns, but it categorically maligns legislative efforts as the Senate works diligently to address the much-needed rebalancing of power. The Senate has not advanced any legislation that would jeopardize federal funding. We are working to address the genuine concerns of many Idahoans while at the same time maintaining federal dollars for our National Guard response, critical assistance to our rural hospitals, school districts, and other community COVID-19 response needs. We look forward to working with the Governor and our colleagues in the House to serve our state during this challenging time. Now is the time for commonsense solutions.”