What to Watch: Week of March 21

21 Mar 2022, by Sara Westbrook Share :

This week will likely be the final week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Even though we are in the home stretch, IAC is still monitoring around a dozen bills. The bills highlighted below are still alive and need IAC members to be actively engaged, particularly with the Senate and in the case of one bill, Governor Little.

IAC 2022 Priority Legislation

House Bill 735 on Public Defense is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Local Government and Taxation today at 2 p.m. MT. (Click here to watch live). IAC is pushing for the bill to be sent to the 14th Order for some needed amendments regarding the funding mechanism. If passed, House Bill 735 would repeal the County Charity & Indigent Fund levy to provide ongoing property tax relief ($33 million in property tax relief). The bill provides two years of reimbursement to counties for the total amount each county levied under the repealed provisions. Starting in 2025 the bill routes the Tax Relief Fund money through the sales tax distribution formula. The bill also has Legislative Intent language encouraging stakeholders to work together to determine the best system of public defense moving forward. Finally, House Bill 735 eliminates the CAT fund removing county responsibility and liability on the medical indigency front.

House Bill 701, sponsored by Rep. Megan Blanksma, is on the Senate 3rd Reading Calendar. House Bill 701 establishes the Idaho Workforce Housing Fund which will be funded using ARPA dollars. This includes a Sunset Clause of December 31, 2026. The Idaho Housing and Finance Association will administer the fund. Funding shall be used for gap financing. Preference will be given to developments that include a local government to match in whole or part the funds allocated. Match could be money, fee waivers, in-kind services, donation of assets, provision of infrastructure, or a combination. At least 20% of moneys will be set aside for use in rural areas. After two years, remaining unused balance would become available to all communities.

IAC Opposed Legislation

House Bill 575, sponsored by Representatives Bruce Skaug, Mike Kingsley, Ron Nate, Tammy Nichols, Rick Youngblood and Senator Jeff Agenbroad, is on the Senate 3rd Reading Calendar and could be heard as early as this afternoon. This bill amends the maximum duration of county leases for courthouses or jails from 30 years to four years. Any lease agreement beyond five years would require a public vote. 

IAC encourages its members to reach out to Senators for your county today to express opposition to House Bill 575. If passed, counties will be the only governmental entity in the state required to seek voter approval to enter a lease for facilities beyond five years, even though counties are required by law to maintain public facilities including courthouses and jails (§31-1001, Idaho Code). Counties are also required to provide suitable and adequate facilities for the district court and magistrate division of district court (§1-1613, Idaho Code, §1-2217, Idaho Code).

Senate Bill 1301, sponsored by lobbyist Robert Anderst (Risch Pisca), has passed the House and Senate. The only step remaining is the Governor’s signature or veto. Time is very limited to secure a veto on this bill. IAC encourages County Assessors to reach out to Governor Little to express opposition to Senate Bill 1301 and ask Governor Little to veto Senate Bill 1301. To send your opposition via email, please email sam.eaton@gov.idaho.gov.

IAC Supported Legislation

House Bill 481 sponsored by Rep. Charlie Shepherd is on the Senate 3rd Reading Calendar. House Bill 481 creates a threshold of $300,000 or 150% of the median assessed valuation of owner-occupied homes in the county as one of the qualifiers when applying for the circuit breaker. This is an increase of 25% for the median assessed valuation. The $300,000 threshold is also a new addition that would allow for additional applicants to qualify in some counties. 

House Bill 621, sponsored by Rep. Dustin Manwaring and Sen. Jim Woodward, is on the Senate 3rd Reading Calendar. House Bill 621 provides that certain cybersecurity records are exempt from disclosure and allows the Board of County Commissioners to have cybersecurity discussions in executive session to protect from bad actors.

House Bill 772, sponsored by Rep. Brook Green, is on the Senate 3rd Reading Calendar. House Bill 772 provides $80 million to the Local Highway Distribution Funds for maintenance and improvements. This bill is part of Governor Little’s “Leading Idaho” package that he proposed at the beginning of the 2022 Legislative Session. This funding is meant to aid in addressing the shortfalls in ongoing transportation funding at the local level.

Please visit the IAC Bill Tracker for the latest updates on other bills IAC is currently monitoring.