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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Overview of Magistrate Court Funding Legislation

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, February 27, 2018

AIC would like to provide some context and background for legislation currently being proposed to address the issue of magistrate court funding. The courts are currently facing a funding crisis as fine revenue from misdemeanor and infraction citations has declined substantially in recent years.  Additionally, many counties are at the statutory property tax levy caps for their Justice Funds and District Court Funds at the same time that the state is implementing very costly public defense standards. 

To address this issue, a workgroup of Idaho’s counties and cities met with one another in cooperation with the administrative arm of the state court system for over six months last year to seek stakeholder driven solutions for local court funding.  Represented by county commissioners and mayors from diverse parts of the state all who participated fully examined the challenges faced in both urban centers and rural locations respectively.

At the heart of the issue for cities participating in the workgroup was finding a way to address Idaho Code section 1-2218 which is provided in full below.

1-2218.  FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT PROVIDED BY CITY. Any city in the state shall, upon order of a majority of the district judges in the judicial district, provide suitable and adequate quarters for a magistrate’s division of the district court, including the facilities and equipment necessary to make the space provided functional for its intended use, and shall provide for the staff personnel, supplies, and other expenses of the magistrate’s division.

The above statute creates a potential liability for cities by allowing judges to determine what court support will be provided by cities with no sideboards or parameters. AIC believes there are significant problems with one interested branch of government being able to order another branch to fund its operations. Currently, several cities voluntarily agree to provide financial support for magistrate courts in lieu of providing facilities, equipment and staffing as required by Idaho Code 1-2218.  There is also pending litigation between the City of Meridian and Ada County with other cities also potentially facing litigation if they cannot agree on the amount of court funding.

After considering a wide range of options, the work group decided to support a proposal dedicating a portion of future revenue growth from the State Liquor Fund to provide additional court funding.  That would satisfy the need for court funding and allow for the repeal of Idaho Code 1-2218.  The work group also supported lifting the levy caps on the Justice and/or District Court Funds to allow counties to spread the costs of court funding among all their taxpayers.

The workgroup proposal was then brought to key members of the Legislature for consideration. After another two months of negotiations between AIC, IAC, and the Chair of the House Judiciary and Rules Committee, the AIC Board of Directors strongly supported moving legislation forward on this issue. The AIC Board agreed that the inherent conflict in 1-2218 of judges determining funding from cities for court operations in conjunction with the court funding shortfalls faced by counties of all sizes warranted foregoing some growth in liquor funds.

 

The legislation contains the following provisions:

 

  1. Each city would forego 3.66% increments of growth in State Liquor Fund revenues for the five years of implementation.  Each county would forego 2% increments of growth in the State Liquor Fund.  The State of Idaho would divert $6 of court fees from the state general fund to magistrate courts.  There is an additional $1 fee diversion to the Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST) to hold them harmless.  State Liquor Fund revenues typically grow between 5-6% a year. 
  2. Prevents any new cities from being ordered to provide magistrate court facilities or funding upon enactment.
  3. Phases out current city magistrate court funding obligations over a five-year period beginning in fiscal year 2019 and ending in fiscal year 2023.
  4. Funds will be distributed to counties through a formula with a base amount for every county and the remainder distributed by a combination of population and caseloads of municipal misdemeanor and infraction charges.
  5. Funds will be deposited into a newly created county magistrate court fund to ensure funds are dedicated to magistrate court operations.
  6. Fully repeals Section 1-2218, Idaho Code on July 1, 2023.

Idaho’s counties would benefit by receiving needed revenues to provide support for the state’s unified judiciary.

Idaho’s cities would benefit by the removal of Idaho Code 1-2218.

Limited property tax dollars would remain available to counties and cities for enforcement of criminal statutes enacted by the Idaho Legislature.

Liquor consumption and magistrate court functions are related to one another in many ways and both counties and cities would forego a small portion of growth in the fund to support courts with the state providing support through court fee diversions.

The Board did not make the decision to forego a portion of growth in liquor revenue lightly. Ultimately, they felt that getting cities completely out of the court funding business at this critical time will prevent further court battles over funding and other more harmful proposals from moving forward. We hope you will join in supporting this legislation.  The bill--House Bill 643--has now been printed and is available to review online.  

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Protect Our Drinking Water & Oppose HCR035 and HCR037

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, February 23, 2018
Rep. Clow (Twin Falls) is proposing to reject Idaho drinking water rules (HCR035) and Plumbing Code sections (HCR037) in order to suspend backflow prevention assembly inspection and annual testing requirements. 
Backflow prevention assemblies are designed to protect drinking water from contamination.  These assemblies are installed in many different types of facilities including:
  • chemical plants using equipment connected to the public water supply
  • hospitals
  • mortuaries
  • medical, dental, and veterinary clinics
  • laboratories
  • irrigation and lawn-sprinkler systems
  • marinas
  • connections with an auxiliary water supply, which could be polluted
The suspension of inspection and annual testing requirements for these devices creates unacceptable risks to public health and welfare.  Manufactures of these devices only guarantee them for one year due to high failure rates.  
Annual testing of backflow prevention devices is necessary to protect the health of entire communities.  Illnesses from failed cross connection control devices have led to hospitalization, and sometimes death.  Examples of device failures, and the associated risks to public health, are readily available from within Idaho and beyond.  One tragic example of a failed backflow device was in 2012 at Hobble Creek, Ada County, Idaho.  Over 70 neighbors were severely sickened and many were hospitalized. Luckily, none of them died.
Contact your Idaho Representatives to let them know that you oppose these rule rejections:
HCR035 - House Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee contact information HERE (click the link for Members) .
HCR037 - House Business Committee contact information HERE (click the link for Members).
 

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City Officials Urged to Contact House Business Committee to Oppose House Bill 547 on Building Codes

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 23, 2018

On Tuesday, February 27 the House Business Committee will consider legislation that would curtail authority for cities and counties to amend residential building codes.  AIC asks city officials to contact members of the House Business Committee (names and contact information below) and respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 547.

House Bill 547 is sponsored by Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian.  The bill would require cities and counties choosing to adopt and enforce building codes to adopt the International Residential Code or International Energy Conservation Code as adopted by the Idaho Building Code Board.  Adopting more recent versions of the code than that adopted by the Idaho Building Code Board would be prohibited.  Local amendments to the code could only be adopted in the case that an immediate threat to life or safety makes such an amendment reasonably necessary and that such amendment provides at least an equivalent level of protection to that of the adopted code.

Why should legislators oppose House Bill 547?

Idaho’s current law on building codes has served to ensure that there is basic uniformity in codes, while allowing cities and counties to adopt local amendments that are in the best interest of their community (including builders) that establish at least an equivalent level of protection to the adopted code.  Local amendments to the building codes require the city or county to provide advance notice to stakeholders and hold a public hearing to take input on the proposal prior to adoption. 

The proposed legislation contradicts the Idaho Building Code Act (Idaho Code Title 39, Chapter 41), that establishes:

·         minimum performance standards and requirements for construction and construction materials;

·         minimum standards and requirements in term of performance, energy efficiency, effect upon construction costs and consistency with nationally accepted standards; and

·         permission to use modern technical methods, devices, and improvements.

The current law on building codes adopted by local government—Idaho Code 39-4116—is clear and straightforward.  HB 547 would add considerable uncertainty by requiring cities and counties to determine that “an immediate threat to human life or safety exists” that necessitates a building code amendment.  What is an immediate threat in the context of building codes that are designed to protect a building and its occupants over decades?  This uncertainty will almost certainly result in costly and unnecessary litigation. 

Curtailing local governments’ authority to amend codes will restrict their ability to make improvements to the codes to provide additional flexibility that will benefit builders.

The members of the House Business Committee and their contact information are provided below.

Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens, Chair  Ph:  (208) 332-1177   Email:  vbar@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Lance W. Clow, Twin Falls, Vice Chair  Ph:  (208) 332-1188   Email:  lclow@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Gary E. Collins, Nampa  Ph:  (208) 332-1063  Email:  gcollins@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Brent J. Crane, Nampa  Ph:  (208) 332-1058  Email:  bcrane@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Joe Palmer, Meridian  Ph:  (208) 332-1062  Email:  jpalmer@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Jeff Thompson, Idaho Falls   Ph:  (208) 332-1081  Email:  jthompson@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Jason A. Monks, Nampa  Ph:  (208) 332-1036  Email:  jmonks@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Sage G. Dixon, Ponderay  Ph:  (208) 332-1185  Email:  sdixon@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, Genesee  Ph:  (208) 332-1035  Email:  cntroy@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Thyra Stevenson, Nezperce  Ph:  (208) 332-1184  Email:  tstevenson@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Randy Armstrong, Inkom  Ph:  (208) 332-1046  Email:  armstrong@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, Eagle  Ph:  (208) 332-1057  Email:  gdemordaunt@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Dustin Manwaring, Pocatello  Ph:  (208) 332-1079  Email:  dmanwaring@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Jarom Wagoner, Caldwell  Ph:  (208) 332-1052  Email:  jwagoner@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Elaine Smith, Pocatello  Ph:  (208) 332-1031  Email:  esmith@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Hy Kloc, Boise  Ph:  (208) 332-1075  Email:  hkloc@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Sally Toone, Gooding  Ph:  (208) 332-1032  Email:  stoone@house.idaho.gov

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President Issues Half-Staff Notice

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, February 15, 2018
Presidential Proclamation Honoring the Victims of the Tragedy in Parkland, Florida

Our Nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones in the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence perpetrated on February 14, 2018, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, February 19, 2018.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

DONALD J. TRUMP

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Legislative Alert: Contact Legislators to Oppose IACI-Sponsored Personal Property Tax Bill—HB 556

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On Thursday, February 15 at 9 a.m., the House Revenue & Taxation Committee will consider an AIC-opposed bill that would establish a county option personal property tax exemption.  AIC strongly encourages city officials to contact their local legislators and respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 556.

House Bill 556 is sponsored by the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry (IACI) and would allow county commissioners to exempt all or part of business owned personal property from property taxation within the county.  Prior to granting such an exemption, the county commissioners would be required to hold a public meeting to discuss the proposal and must provide notice to affected taxing districts and urban renewal agencies.

The primary concern about this legislation is it would grant county commissioners unilateral authority to exempt business-owned equipment, machinery, furniture and other personal property from paying property taxes.  For most cities, this would mean a dramatic shift in property tax burden from big business to homeowners and small businesses. 

The impact would be even more severe for local governments that are at their property tax levy caps: the county commissioners’ decision would force those taxing districts to cut their property tax budgets to offset the loss in taxable value from the exemption.  Giving county commissioners this kind of authority over other local government budgets is bad public policy.    

Passing bonds and levies will become much more difficult in counties that exempt personal property from taxation, because of the major shift in tax burden from big business to homeowners and other classes of property.  Exempting personal property would also reduce the bonding capacity for schools. 

Urban renewal agencies (URAs), including Chobani and Clif Bar in Twin Falls, rely heavily on business personal property taxes to repay outstanding bonds.  The loss of personal property tax revenue could potentially jeopardize certain URAs’ ability to repay their bonds.

AIC, the Idaho Association of Counties, and the Idaho School Boards Association supported the personal property tax relief legislation that passed in 2008 that protected local governments budgets by providing replacement revenue to offset the loss in personal property tax revenue.  A statewide policy that provides replacement revenues continues to be the appropriate way to provide additional personal property tax relief.

We urge city officials to contact their local legislators and respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 556.  You can find your legislators using this online tool on the Idaho Legislature’s website. 

 

 

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Legislative Alert: Contact House State Affairs Committee to Oppose HB 487 on Bond & Levy Elections

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On Friday, February 16, the House State Affairs Committee will consider AIC-opposed legislation to prohibit cities, school districts and other local governments from re-running a bond or levy election for at least 12 months after a failed attempt.

We ask city officials to contact members of the committee (listed at the bottom of this email) and respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 487.

AIC joins with the Idaho School Boards Association in opposing House Bill 487.  Local government officials in Idaho oppose the bill for the following reasons.

Mayors, city councilors, and school board trustees are elected to represent their communities and have the community’s best interests at heart.  These local elected officials understand the sacrifices that property taxpayers make to fund vital facilities like schools, police and fire stations, and streets.  Local elected officials understand the impact of these decisions on retirees that are living on fixed incomes.

Preventing bond or levy elections from being run for 12 months after a first failed attempt would hurt communities that currently depend on supplemental levies for school operations funding.  Ensuring that schools have adequate resources to educate kids is everyone’s priority.

City revenue bonds for wastewater projects ensure that communities are complying with water quality regulations, protecting against crippling fines that would be a terrible burden on the community’s utility customers.

We respectfully ask that legislators oppose HB 487.  The members of House State Affairs Committee and their emails are listed below.

Rep. Thomas F. Loertscher, Bone, Chair:  tloertscher@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Jason A. Monks, Nampa, Vice Chair:  jmonks@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Lynn M. Luker, Boise:   lluker@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Brent J. Crane, Nampa:   bcrane@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Joe Palmer, Meridian:  jpalmer@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens:  vbar@house.idaho.gov

Rep. James Holtzclaw, Meridian:  jholtzclaw@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Steven Harris, Meridian:  sharris@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Randy Armstrong, Inkom:  armstrong@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, White Bird:  pgiddings@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Dustin Manwaring, Pocatello:  dmanwaring@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Christy Zito, Hammett:   czito@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Heather Scott, Blanchard:  hscott@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Elaine Smith, Pocatello:  esmith@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Paulette E. Jordan, Plummer:  pjordan@house.idaho.gov

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US Reclamation Title Transfers in Idaho - Process Improvements Under Discussion

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Sunday, February 11, 2018
Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2018

Since 1996, Reclamation has transferred title to thirty (30) projects or parts of projects across the West pursuant to various acts of Congress.  Successful title transfers of Reclamation projects in Idaho since 1998 generally provided mutual benefits to both Reclamation and the non-federal entities involved.

Reclamation has recognized that there were many more entities that might be good candidates to take title, but had not pursued it for various reasons.  In an effort to work with non-federal entities who are interested in pursuing title transfers, Reclamation developed a process in 2004 to facilitate additional title transfers in a consistent and comprehensive way known as the Framework for the Transfer of Title.  In spite of some successes, including those in Idaho, Reclamation and others see that the current process still takes too long and discourages some good candidates from coming forward.

To examine the existing title transfer process and potential benefits to federal and non-federal stakeholders, the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Water and Energy Subcommittee, held a hearing on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

Austin Ewell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science of the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI), testified and provided five suggestions to improve the title transfer process.

  • Congress should authorize the UDOI Secretary, through the Bureau of Reclamation, to administratively transfer titles to projects and facilities based specific established eligibility criteria.
  • The process to develop title transfer agreements under a title transfer program should be open, public, and transparent.
  • There should be the development of categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act that applies to title transfers.
  • Existence of hydropower on a Reclamation project provides additional complexities in the process that need to be addressed legislatively.
  • The Bureau of Reclamation recommends statutory language to ensure Reclamation law continues to control project water regardless of title transfer, especially when only a portion of a project is transferred.
 

As discussed by Paul Arrington with with Idaho Water Users Association during the January hearing, Idaho has a rich history of title transfer involving Reclamation projects. In fact, one of the first Title Transfers of a Reclamation project involved the Burley Irrigation District in Southern Idaho in 1998. Since that time, other successful Idaho Title Transfers include Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District in 2001, Fremont Madison Irrigation District in 2004, and American Falls Reservoir District #2 in 2008.  

Transfer proposals that have been initiated but not yet completed include those with Pioneer Irrigation District and the City of Caldwell.  Other transfers planned for the future include the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District in Lewiston, Idaho and the Minidoka Irrigation District. Minidoka is currently waiting on Reclamation to draft a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the issues to be addressed in a title transfer.

Idaho cities interested in assessing potential benefits of title transfers from Reclamation are encouraged to review the presence and conditions of Reclamation conveyances within their city limits.  

 

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Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop - March 14, 2018

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Sunday, February 11, 2018
Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is offering an Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop for Federal, state, tribal, and local personnel, including corporate and facility security professionals from the private and public sectors, supervisory first responders, human resource managers, law enforcement, community response officials, and homeland security representatives.

This one-day Security Workshop, located in Pullman, Washington, is designed to enhance preparedness through a “whole community” approach.  This approach supports our stakeholders’ efforts to plan, prepare and mitigate risk from a potential active shooter threat by:
 

  • Educating participants on the history of active shooter events;
  • Describing common behavior, conditions, and situations associated with active shooters; and
  • Fostering communication between critical infrastructure owners and operators and local emergency response teams.

This course includes discussions of interoperability, communications protocols, and best practices for planning, preparedness, and response.

For more information and to register for the DHS Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop, Click Here.

Hosted by the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of Infrastructure Protection and the Pullman Police Department, Schweitzer Engineer Laboratories (SEL).

Note: This is not a tactical training course. 

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Cities Asked to Help Identify Low-Income “Opportunity Zones”

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 9, 2018

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contains new tax incentives for investments in low-income census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Idaho Department of Commerce are calling for cities, counties, and tribes in eligible areas to apply for a Governor’s nomination to participate.

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities. Private investment vehicles that place 90 percent or more of their funds into an Opportunity Zone can earn tax relief on the capital gains generated through those investments. Tax benefits increase the longer investments are in place.

The zones themselves will be designated in U.S. Census tracts that meet the Treasury Department’s qualifications for New Market Income Tax credits. These are U.S. Census tracts where the poverty rate is 20 percent or greater and/or family income is less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.

The governor of each state is permitted to designate 25 percent of its “low income census tracts” as Opportunity Zones subject to approval from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Idaho has 109 low-income census tracts, of which up to 27 may be designated as Opportunity Zones.

Communities in the following counties may qualify for Opportunity Zone nomination: Ada, Adams, Bannock, Benewah, Bingham, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Clark, Clearwater, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lewis, Madison, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Payette, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Valley and Washington.

Cities, counties, and tribes with eligible census tracts should contact the Department of Commerce and apply via the department’s online portal. For more information, to begin the application process and for access to the online portal, please email grants@commerce.idaho.gov

Questions about community eligibility may be directed to Jerry Miller at jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov or 208.287.0780. All applications must be submitted to the online portal no later than 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time on March 2, 2018.

 

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Idaho Dept. of Commerce Schedules Webinars on Opportunity Zones

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, February 8, 2018

An aspect of the recent federal tax relief legislation that has garnered significant interest from local officials is the provision establishing Opportunity Zones, which give preferential capital gains tax status for investments in economically disadvantaged areas.  

The Idaho Department of Commerce has scheduled webinars on Monday, February 12 and Tuesday, February 20 to cover this hot topic and help local officials understand the law.  Topics to be covered include:

  • What are opportunity zones and how do they benefit investors?
  • How can local officials work with the state to identify census tracts eligible for Opportunity Zone status?
  • Walk through the online Opportunity Zone application and nominating tool.
  • Address questions regarding the process.

If you have any questions, please contact Jerry Miller at jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov or 208-287-0780.

If you are unable to attend the live webinar, it will be available on demand at this location:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1grpMgT9xT6zkeWWIrebUrzZ3mNtdqbmX

Links to register for the webinars are provided below.  

February 12, 2018

2:30 – 3:30 MST (1:30 -2:30 PST)

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8778371482405798403

 

February 20, 2018

10:00 -11:00 MST (9:00 -10:00 PST)

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1644943451046658051

 

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