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The AIC Blog connects the association staff to our membership, provides informative updates on state and federal policy issues, and spotlights upcoming AIC training, conferences and events.

 

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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

New Arsenic Criteria Expected to Impact More Than 66 Idaho Municipal NPDES Permittees

Posted By Johanna Bell, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2016

EPA and Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) entered into a settlement agreement on the Idaho Arsenic water quality standards on May 19, 2016.  In response to the May settlement agreement, the EPA Region 10 issued a disapproval letter on September 15, 2016 to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (attached) disapproving both Idaho's most recent arsenic criteria of 10 micrograms per liter (µg/L) or 0.01 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and older criteria of 50 µg/L that EPA had never approved or rejected.  The May agreement requires EPA to:

  • review and issue permits in Idaho using Idaho’s approved designated uses and EPA’s current recommended Arsenic criteria (6.2 µg/L or 0.0062 mg/L for consumption of fish only and 0.02 µg/L or 0.00002 mg/L for consumption of fish and water)
  • including water quality based numeric permit limitations for Arsenic where needed
  • require additional monitoring where detectable concentrations of Arsenic are greater than 0.5 µg/L using sufficiently sensitive analytical methods, and
  • for permittees that cannot meet permit limits, the permit will include a compliance schedule and where appropriate, a treatability study


The "fish plus water" criteria will affect at least half of the NPDES permits statewide.  Preliminary review of the existing 135 EPA-issued Idaho municipal NPDES permits for drinking water treatment and wastewater permittees along with the receiving waters designated uses show that:

  •  66 permittees (49%) would be subject to the 0.02 µg/L Arsenic criteria:
  • facilities located primarily in the Henry’s Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Payette, Snake, Clearwater, Paradise Creek, Big Lost, Kootenai, Big Wood, Selway, St Maries, Potlatch, Weiser and Salmon watersheds
  • 69 permittees (51%) would be subject to the 6.2 µg/L Arsenic criterion:
  • facilities located primarily in the lower Boise, Little Wood, South Fork Palouse, Portneuf, South Fork Clearwater, South Fork CdA, South Fork Teton, and tributaries/canals to major rivers across the state

Preliminary assessment of the ability of permittees to meet the new criteria suggests that many NPDES permittees, including all of the permittees required to meet the "fish plus water" 0.02 µg/L arsenic criteria and potentially some of the permittees required to meet the "fish only" 6.2 µg/L criteria, will face significant permitting requirements and actions.  

Primary concerns include the ability of treatment technologies to reliably meet the criteria, high capital and operation and maintenance costs, and negative operational and environmental impacts (additional energy, additional solids, brine disposal, additional treatment space, etc.).  A 2013 toxic(s) Treatment Technology Review and Assessment funded for Washington State found that, for arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls, no facilities currently treat to the revised human health water quality criteria; and that compliance with arsenic criteria of 0.018 or 0.02 µg/L appears unlikely. Click HERE for more information.

A statewide approach to the permitting and compliance issues raised by the May agreement would likely result in significant cost savings (i.e., implement one treatability study for the 66+ facilities and submit one statewide variance request; subsequently reducing the number of 401 certifications and variance reviews by EPA and IDEQ, etc.).  Benefits to a statewide approach also include increased consistency and technical rigor of the resulting treatability study. 

AIC will coordinate a statewide approach to address the limits, monitoring requirements, treatability study, and if needed, a variance request for EPA issued permits.  For additional information contact Johanna Bell at jbell@idahocities.org  or (208) 344-8594.

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AIC Fall District Academies Scheduled for November

Posted By Seth Grigg, Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Registration is now open for AIC's 2016 Fall District Academies for City Officials. AIC will hold meetingS throughout the state in November in an effort to make training and continuing education opportunities available for city officials throughout the state. Registration for the Fall Academies is $35 and includes lunch. You can register to attend an academy in your region by clicking the following link: http://idahocities.org/page/FallDistrictMeetings. All city officials are invited to attend. We hope you will join us.

Meetings will take place throughout the state at the following locations:

Wednesday, November 9th: Hilton Garden Inn, Idaho Falls (700 Lindsay Blvd.)

Thursday, November 10th: Idaho Central Credit Union, Chubbuck (4400 Central Way)

Monday, November 14th: Wyndam Garden Hotel, Boise (3300 S. Vista Ave.)

Tuesday, November 15th: Canyon Crest Event Center, Twin Falls (330 Canyon Crest Dr.)

Monday, November 28th: Coeur d’Alene Inn, Coeur d’Alene (506 W. Appleway)

Tuesday, November 29th: Red Lion Inn, Lewiston (621 21ST St.)

Training topics with descriptions include:

 Designating and Permitting Truck Routes within City Limits: As both the frequency of trips and the weight of commercial trucks operating in Idaho increase, it is important that cities coordinate with ITD and other stakeholders the designated routes within city boundaries that commercial trucks are permitted to operate on. Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) staff will present on a pending ITD rule to allow local highway jurisdictions to work with ITD in jointly permitting trucks to operate on routes designated by a city council, resources available to cities interested in designated truck routes, and best practices in partnering with ITD to permit commercial trucks to operate within city limits.

Idaho’s Open Meeting Law: AIC staff will provide training on Idaho’s open meeting law, including information related to public notice, types of open meetings, developing agendas, roles of city officials in participating in open meetings, and penalties for failure to comply with the Idaho Open Meeting Law. The training on open meetings is intended to serve as the foundation for the remaining topics on the agenda.

Municipal Ordinances and Resolutions: AIC staff will provide a comprehensive overview of the ordinance and resolution development process, including the differences between an ordinance and a resolution, the constitutional and statutory grant of authority to cities to enact ordinances, best practices in developing and adopting ordinances, and best practices in developing and adopting resolutions.

How to Conduct Public Meetings: AIC staff will provide an overview of how to effectively conduct a public meeting or hearing, including the differences between a public meeting and a public hearing, the public notification process, the respective roles of city officials during a public hearing, how to help participants through the hearing process, and best practices in public hearing decision making.

Area of City Impact Planning: AIC Legal Counsel Jerry Mason will discuss with city officials the aspects of successful area of city impact planning, including the current law as it relates to area of city impact planning, judicial decisions affecting area of city impact planning, the necessary components of a successful area of city impact agreement, and the role of the city and county in ultimately developing and adopting the area of city impact ordinance.

Annexation: AIC Legal Counsel Jerry Mason will train city officials on why annexation is critical for the future growth and development of cities, discuss current Idaho law as it relates to annexation, discuss the political considerations that need to be factored when considering annexing new parcels, and recent legislative efforts that have surfaced to curtail city annexation authority.

Legislative Preview: AIC staff will discuss legislative hot topics likely to come before the 2017 Idaho Legislature, including funding for municipal stormwater systems, protection of municipal water rights, magistrate court funding, and transportation funding.

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AIC Hires Johanna Bell as a Policy Analyst

Posted By Seth Grigg, Tuesday, October 11, 2016

AIC is pleased to announce the hire of Johanna Bell as a Policy Analyst. Johanna will focus her efforts at AIC on environmental and natural resource policy issues related to water quality (stormwater, wastewater, etc.), municipal water, and municipal utilities as well as municipal policy related to energy efficiency and building codes. As part of her responsibilities Johanna will work closely with AIC Executive Director Seth Grigg and fellow AIC Policy Analyst Justin Ruen in carrying out AIC's strategic policy priorities, providing technical assistance to AIC members, and assisting with member education efforts.

Johanna has lived in Idaho since the early 1990’s, working with State and municipal entities concerned with natural resource management, regulation development, compliance, and stakeholder outreach. Johanna is a registered Professional Civil Engineer with an emphasis in water resources management. Her degrees include an MS in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Idaho, BS/BA degrees in Environmental Studies from the Evergreen State College in Washington, and a graduate certificate in Mediation & Conflict Management from Boise State University.  Johanna can be reached by phone at (208) 344-8594 or by email at jbell@idahocities.org. Please join us in welcoming Johanna to the AIC family.

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First Annual AIC Municipal Water Users Summit Scheduled for October 25th in Boise

Posted By Seth Grigg, Thursday, September 29, 2016
Updated: Thursday, September 29, 2016

AIC is pleased to announce the first ever AIC Municipal Water Users Summit will take place Tuesday, October 25th in Boise at the Wyndam Garden Hotel located at 3300 S Vista Ave. All city officials are invited to attend; however, the content of the meeting is targeted towards city elected officials, administrators, public works professionals, and other staff working directly in water, wastewater, and stormwater programs.

A registration fee is being charged in order to cover the costs associated with the renting the facility and providing lunch and refreshments. AIC members can register for the event for $65. Non-AIC members may attend; however, the registration fee for Non-AIC members is $95.  

AIC hopes this meeting will become an annual event that rotates around the state. The first meeting is being held in Boise to make travel easy on all of AIC’s members (easy airport access for those in the Panhandle and Palouse and is within a reasonable driving distance for those in the southern and eastern reaches of the state).

You can register for the summit by clicking here or copying and pasting the following link into your web browser: www.idahocities.org/watersummit.

While most of the day will be spent discussing current hot topic water policy issues affecting cities, a key component of the summit will be selecting regional representatives to serve on the AIC Municipal Water Users Group oversight board. While the AIC Board of Directors retains final policy decision making authority, the AIC Municipal Water Users Group will play a central role in developing AIC policy positions in areas of municipal water rights and water quality as well as play a critical role in tracking/discussing legal matters pending in court, and the development of regional efforts to improve the standing of municipalities in water matters. In order to provide representation for cities in the various water regions of the state, representatives will be selected from each of the Idaho Department of Water Resources four water regions. Each water region will select two city elected officials as a representative. Additionally, the AIC President is authorized to appoint one city elected official at large to serve on the oversight board. In addition to elected city officials, AIC is also looking for city staff with expertise in water (city engineers, public works professionals, and city administrators) to provide technical support and assist city elected officials in making policy decisions.

The breakdown of the four IDWR water reasons is as follow:

North Region: Cities in Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, and Shoshone Counties.

West Region: Cities in Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Idaho, Owyhee, Payette, Valley, and Washington Counties.

South Region: Cities in Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Custer, Gooding, Jerome, Minidoka, Power, and Twin Falls Counties.

East Region: Cities in Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Oneida, and Teton Counties.

We hope you are able to join AIC for this timely summit. The event program, including descriptions is as follows:

8:00am: Registration Opens

9:00am: Welcome/Introductions/Why is AIC Convening City Officials to Discuss Water Policy

9:15am: Federal and State Water Quality Regulatory Issues Facing Cities

Presenter: Barry Burnell, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

Summary: Barry and his team from DEQ will discuss with city officials the status of IPDES permitting, including expected fees, permit guidance development, and timelines for implementation; the status of EPA Region 10 MS4 Phase II permitting, including potential costs, timelines, and impacts on cities; and other issues affecting cities including EPA Region 10 plans to require reductions in allowed phosphorous levels in treated wastewater

10:30am: Refreshment Break

10:45am: Idaho’s Water Resources and Cities

Presenter: Matt Weaver, Idaho Department of Water Resources

Summary: Matt and his team from IDWR will discuss with city officials current water issues facing the state from the Eastern Snake Plane Aquifer all the way to the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. As part of the presentation IDWR will discuss administrative tools the department uses to manage Idaho’s water resources including recharge, adjudication, conjunctive management, and groundwater management areas, as well as how these management tools affect cities.

12:15pm: Lunch with Special Guest Roger Chase, Chairman of the Idaho Water Resources Board. As part of the lunch presentation, Roger will discuss his experience both as a mayor and chairman of the Idaho Water Recourses Board, ways that cities can work with the Board to address municipal water issues, and various grants and resources available from the Board to assist cities.

1:15 pm: Regional Caucus to Discuss Regional Water Issues and to Elect Regional AIC Municipal Water User Group Representatives

2:15pm: Refreshment Break

2:30pm: Development of Priorities to Address Municipal Water Needs

Facilitators: Seth Grigg, AIC Executive Director, Chris Bromley and Candice McHugh, AIC Water Legal Counsel, Tom Dupuis, AIC Environmental Consultant

Summary: AIC staff and consultants will discuss options with attendees next steps for addressing pending water related issues affecting cities including potential legislation.

4:00pm Adjourn

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Process for Submitting AIC Member Initiated Legislation

Posted By Seth Grigg, Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last year the AIC Board established a clear process for members to submit legislative proposals for consideration as AIC priority legislation. The process is intended to allow for a more inclusive and transparent policy development process. The membership submitted three proposals for the 2016 Legislative Session relating to electronic records retention, unused cemetery lots, and municipal alcohol catering permits. I’m pleased to report that all three of those proposals were adopted by the Legislature and have since become law. Members can submit proposals to AIC staff at any time; however, in order to prepare for the upcoming session, the Bylaws do contain a deadline of October 15. This email is to serve as a resource for those interested in submitting legislative proposals to AIC for possible inclusion in the AIC priority legislative package. Please feel free to contact myself (sgrigg@idachocities.org) or Justin Ruen (jruen@idahocities.org) with any questions. The process for submitting member initiated legislative proposals as well as basic FAQs are presented as follows:

Who can propose AIC sponsored priority legislation?

Proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation may be brought forward by any of the following association members of groups:

·       AIC Board of Directors,

·       AIC Legislative Committee.

·       AIC Committees, or

·       Elected Officials from One or More Member City.

The Bylaws also allow AIC staff to bring legislative proposals to the Board of Directors at any time. 

When is the deadline to submit a proposal for AIC sponsored priority legislation for consideration?

All policy proposals must be submitted to AIC staff by the close of business on October 15th in order to be consider as part of the AIC Priority Legislative Package. Please submit all legislative proposals via email to Seth Grigg (sgrigg@idahocities.org). You can also contact Seth via phone at (208) 344-8594 questions.

What information must be included with member submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

Legislative proposals submitted to AIC for consideration by an approved sponsor must include the following information:

·       The sponsor (either the name, title, and city of the sponsor or the name of the AIC committee)

·       A brief summary of the proposed legislation in sufficient detail to evaluate the proposal

·       A simple statement of the fiscal impact of the proposed legislation on the state and local governments

·       Draft legislative language

Will AIC staff review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Bylaws require association staff to prepare a staff report to assist the Board of Directors and in reviewing priority legislation. The staff report will include the following items:

·       A list of Idaho statutes affected by the proposed legislation,

·       A list of city departments and city officials affected by the proposed legislation,

·       A list of legislative stakeholders both likely to support and likely to oppose the proposed legislation,

·       A statement of the reasons to support the proposed legislation,

·       A statement of the reasons not to support the legislation, including unintended consequences,

·       A brief fiscal analysis of the proposed legislation, and

·       An analysis of the political feasibility of the proposed legislation (likelihood of passage).

Who will review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Board of Directors is authorized by the Bylaws to review and evaluate all legislative proposals submitted by the membership for consideration.

When Will the Board of Directors meet to review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Board of Directors must meet by the second Friday in November to consider member submitted legislative proposals.

How will the Board of Directors review membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Bylaws require the Board of Directors to take the following information into consideration when reviewing legislative proposals:

·       The proposed legislation should affect more than one member city,

·       The proposed legislation should benefit more than one member city,

·       The proposed legislation should be within the general realm and scope of city government, and

·       The proposed legislation should be politically feasible.

What is the voting threshold for the Board of Directors to adopt membership submitted proposals for AIC sponsored priority legislation?

The Bylaws require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Board of Directors in order to support member initiated legislative proposals.

Why is the voter threshold so high?

Having a two-thirds voter threshold will ensure that only near consensus legislation is advanced, thus preventing major divisions within the membership.

For how long is legislation adopted by the Board of Directors the policy position of the association?

Member initiated priority legislation adopted by the Board of Directors will remain the policy position of the association for one year; however, nothing will preclude unsuccessful legislation from being reconsidered in subsequent years.

When will the membership have the opportunity to review AIC sponsored priority legislation adopted by the Board of Directors?

Association membership will have an opportunity to review and comment on AIC sponsored priority legislation at the fall Legislative Committee meeting, scheduled for Thursday, December 1st in Boise. Members will also have the opportunity to review AIC sponsored priority legislation during the AIC Legislative Committee meeting held in conjunction with the AIC City Officials Day at the Capitol in late January.

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The 2016 Idaho Legislature from the Cities’ Perspective

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The 2016 legislative session was productive from a policymaking standpoint, but was definitely a mixed bag in terms of promoting and protecting the interests of Idaho’s cities.  This article will review the most significant issues of the session from the city perspective. 

First, we would like to thank the many city officials who responded to AIC’s legislative alerts and called, emailed and texted legislators.  AIC’s legislative advocacy efforts depend on the grassroots engagement of city officials throughout the state and your help is greatly appreciated.

Urban Renewal Reform: The urban renewal reform bill that passed the Legislature is certainly not perfect, but House Bill 606 provides clarity on an issue of critical importance for businesses and cities: resetting of the base assessment roll.   

First, a little of the backstory.  For the past several months a legislative interim committee has met 10 times and conducted an exhaustive review of Idaho’s urban renewal laws and how urban renewal is being used.  The committee’s focus has been on strengthening transparency and accountability of urban renewal agencies; requiring voter approval for construction of city halls, libraries, and other municipal buildings when tax increment revenues are used; and requiring agencies to submit plans and amendments to a portal operated by the State Tax Commission. 

One of the unanticipated issues that arose in the committee’s deliberations was the fact that there were conflicting provisions in state law—Idaho Code 50-2033 and 50-2903(4)—concerning whether an urban renewal plan amendment results in a resetting of the base assessment roll and loss of the increment revenue to the urban renewal agency.  An Attorney General’s opinion was provided to the interim committee members that confirmed the conflicting statutes and raised serious doubts about the existing interpretation of the law by the urban renewal agencies and the Tax Commission. 

Cities and urban renewal agencies have always interpreted the law to allow amendments without resetting of the base, because plan amendments allow communities to respond to economic development opportunities and resetting of the base would cripple an agency’s ability to fund the very projects that the urban renewal agency was created to bring to fruition.  The Idaho Tax Commission has long interpreted the law to mean that plan amendments do not result in a resetting of the base, but the agency has recently taken some heat from legislators for that position. 

In order to avoid litigation over the base reset issue that could endanger high profile economic development success stories throughout the state including Chobani in Twin Falls, it was necessary to have a legislative fix. 

A proposal approved by the interim committee in mid-February was a true consensus proposal supported by AIC and the Redevelopment Association of Idaho (RAI).  Unfortunately, that proposal ran into opposition in the House and was shelved while a new proposal was drafted.  AIC and RAI opposed the two subsequent proposals that were introduced—House Bills 572 and 606—and advocated for Senate amendments to allow plan amendments for unanticipated economic development opportunities.

House Bill 606 provides that urban renewal plans created on or after July 1, 2016 can only be amended for the following reasons without resulting in a base reset: (1) to make technical or ministerial plan amendments that do not increase the use of tax increment revenues; (2) to make a one-time plan amendment that increases the revenue allocation area boundary by up to 10 percent; (3) to deannex parcels from a revenue allocation area; or (4) to make a plan amendment to support growth of an existing commercial or industrial project in an existing revenue allocation area. 

House Bill 606 was sent to the House amending order at the behest of business interests to add a grandfather clause allowing all existing plans to be amended in the future without having the base reset.  While AIC supported that individual amendment, we also continued to advocate for a Senate amendment allowing for plan amendments to provide infrastructure for economic development projects.  House Bill 606 passed the House by a vote of 52-17-1 and then proceeded to the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee.  The committee voted to send the bill to the amending order for further changes and the AIC-RAI amendment was approved and incorporated into the bill.

It became clear the following morning that the House would not pass the bill with AIC’s amendment included.  Without a legislative fix there was a high likelihood that urban renewal agencies would be sued over upcoming plan amendments, including Twin Falls, which needed to amend their plan for an expansion by Chobani.  Not wanting to risk lawsuits that could put such important projects at risk, AIC asked for the amendment to be removed from the bill.  House Bill 606 then passed the Senate 24-11-0 and passed the House 56-11-3.

Despite its shortcomings, HB 606 resolves the base reset issue legislatively and eliminates the potential for an adverse court ruling that could have a devastating effect on economic development efforts throughout the state.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016, with the exception of section 7 of the bill on reporting to the state portal, which takes effect January 1, 2017.

Relocation of Utilities in Urban Renewal Projects: AIC and the Redevelopment Association of Idaho were able to successfully defeat House Bill 404, sponsored by Frontier Communications, that would have required urban renewal agencies to reimburse telecommunications providers for the full costs of relocating facilities during an urban renewal project.

Firefighters Occupational Presumption: After 16 years of lobbying the Legislature, the Professional Firefighters of Idaho successfully passed legislation providing an occupational presumption for certain cancers suffered by firefighters.  House Bill 554 takes effect July 1, 2016 and has a sunset clause for the bill’s provisions to expire on July 1, 2021.

Public Defense: After years of study by a legislative interim committee, the state made real progress on strengthening what has been criticized as a constitutionally deficient system of providing legal defense for indigent criminal defendants.  House Bill 504 empowers the Idaho Public Defense Commission to set standards for public defender caseloads, training, and resources, and provides $5 million for grants to help counties meet these new standards.  Another public defense bill, Senate Bill 1361, allows counties to pay the costs of public defense from the justice fund, current expense fund or indigent fund. This will provide needed flexibility to cover public defense costs.  Both bills take effect July 1, 2016.

Online Sales Tax: Progress was made this year towards charging sales tax on online purchases, but the proposal got tied into an income tax relief bill—House Bill 633—that failed to get traction in the House.  We greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. Lance Clow of Twin Falls—a former Mayor and AIC President—on this important issue and hope that greater progress can be made next session.

Mental Health Crisis Centers: The legislative budget committee approved funding for opening two new mental health crisis centers in the Magic Valley and the Treasure Valley to complement the two existing centers in Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls.  These facilities provide short term assistance to people who are having mental health or substance abuse crises to help keep them out of jails and emergency rooms, saving considerable taxpayer money in the process.  AIC has strongly supported the Mental Health Crisis Centers since their inception.

Concealed Carry: Senate Bill 1389, on concealed carry of weapons passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.  The bill authorizes carrying of concealed weapons within city limits by any person who is over 21 years of age, an Idaho resident, and is not disqualified by law from carrying a concealed weapon.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Protection of Easements in Tax Deed Sales: A bill that didn’t receive much public attention, but is nonetheless very important for cities is Senate Bill 1388, sponsored by Sen. Bart Davis of Idaho Falls.  The bill reverses a district court ruling that held that a private easement was extinguished when real property was transferred by tax deed.  SB 1388 provides that valid public and private easements remain in effect when real property is transferred by tax deed, which is critical for cities, counties, highway districts, irrigation districts, and private utilities.  The bill takes effect upon signature by the Governor.

Campaign Finance Reporting: AIC, in partnership with the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of Highway Districts successfully defeated Senate Bill 1299, sponsored by Sen. Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene and Sen. Todd Lakey of Nampa, which would have required campaign finance reporting for all candidates for local elected office and all local ballot measures.  Currently, campaign finance reporting is only required in cities with over 5,000 population.  This legislation would have had serious impacts on the smallest cities, making it even more difficult to recruit candidates for elected office and requiring part-time city clerks to learn and administer a very complicated campaign finance law.

Minimum Wage Preemption: House Bill 463, which preempts the authority of cities and counties to pass local minimum wage ordinances, was passed into law.  Currently, no cities or counties in Idaho have adopted a minimum wage ordinance, although a citizen initiative was defeated last November in the City of McCall.  The bill was sponsored by Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d’Alene and Sen. Jim Rice of Caldwell and was strongly supported by the Idaho Retailers Association, the Northwest Grocery Association and the Idaho Freedom Foundation.   The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Sensitive Records Relating to Critical Infrastructure: The Legislature approved broadening the existing public records exemption for facility plans and other infrastructure related records.  House Bill 447 exempts from public disclosure records relating to proposed or existing critical infrastructure when the disclosure of such records is reasonably likely to jeopardize the safety of persons, property or the public safety.  The bill was sponsored by the Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association and was supported by AIC.  The legislation took effect March 23, 2016.

Underground Facilities Damage Prevention: Several years of effort by the Damage Prevention Coalition, a group including representatives of local governments, private utilities, excavators, contractors, and other stakeholders, finally came to fruition this session with the passage of House Bill 454 to strengthen Idaho’s Call Before You Dig Law.  The bill establishes a Damage Prevention Board under the state Division of Building Safety that would be responsible for adjudicating violations of the dig law and providing education on safe excavation practices.  The board will be funded by a fee paid by underground facility owners that are required to participate in a one-number notification service based on the facility owner’s number of locate calls.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Public Safety Communications Commission: The passage of Senate Bill 1212, sponsored by the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, will establish a new Idaho Public Safety Communications Commission.  The commission will consolidate governance for emergency and public safety communications by merging the Idaho Emergency Communications Commission and the Statewide Interoperability Executive Council.  The new commission will oversee 911, dispatch, device interoperability, and public safety wireless broadband.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Unused Cemetery Plots: AIC-sponsored legislation that provides a process for cities and cemetery districts to follow to deal with cemetery lots that were sold decades ago where there is uncertainty about whether the owner or their family intend to use the lot was passed into law.

Since the 1960s, most cemetery deeds have included reversionary clauses that provide that if the lot is not used within a specified period of time—generally 30 to 50 years—then the lot reverts to the cemetery owner.  A number of Idaho cities—including Boise, Nampa, Caldwell and Lewiston—face the challenge of dealing with cemetery lots sold decades ago before reversionary clauses became standard practice.  For example, the City of Caldwell has more than 100 cemetery lots purchased between 50 and 100 years ago that have not been used for burial where it is not clear whether the owner or their heirs have any interest in using the lot.

Under House Bill 496, in the event that a cemetery lot has not been used for burial for at least 50 years after purchase, the city or cemetery district notifies the owner or the owner’s heirs of the existence of the lot and gives them 60 days to respond in writing to express an interest in using the lot for burial.  If the owner cannot be located, then legal notice is published for three weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county and the notice is mailed to the owner’s last known address, if available.

If the owner or their heirs fail to notify the city or district within 60 days after notice is provided that they intend to use the lot, then it reverts to the city or district and may be sold for burial purposes.

In the event that the owner or their heir shows up at some point down the line after the lot reverted to the city or district and wants to use it for burial, they are entitled to use it if the lot has not been sold to someone else.  If the lot has been sold, the city or district must either provide another lot in the cemetery or compensate the person for the fair value of the lot at the present time.

This legislation will help public cemeteries to deal with this issue in a responsible way that respects the rights of the purchaser and their heirs.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Catering Permits for Festivals: AIC-sponsored legislation allowing catering permits to be issued for festivals and extending the duration of catering permits was passed into law.  Senate Bill 1354 provides that alcohol catering permits may be issued for festivals, which are periods or programs of festive activities, cultural events or entertainment lasting three or more consecutive days. The bill also extends the maximum duration of catering permits from three to five consecutive days and allows for a single five day permit extension. The bill also provides that the Chief of Police and Fire Chief may attach conditions for approval of catering permits to protect public safety.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Electronic Retention of Permanent Records: House Bill 443, which passed into law this session, extends to cities the authority to retain permanent records using digital media.  The bill was sponsored by AIC and was supported by the Idaho State Historical Society. 

Currently, Idaho law requires cities to retain permanent records in paper form, which can prove to be a challenge with records like commercial building plans that take up considerable space.  Retaining these records electronically will be much more user friendly and efficient than keeping them in paper form. 

For permanent records that are not of historical significance, House Bill 443 allows these records to be retained using digital media and then the paper original of the record can be destroyed after notice to the Idaho State Historical Society.

House Bill 443 also provides a definition of historical records and requires these records to be retained in paper form in perpetuity, either by the city or the State Archives. 

House Bill 443 takes effect July 1, 2016.

Construction Manager/General Contractor: Senate Bill 1219 was passed this session, which makes several changes to the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) law adopted by the 2014 Idaho Legislature.  The bill mandates solicitation of bids from at least three contractors or suppliers deemed qualified by the CM/GC, allows public entities to limit CM/GC self-performance, requires all fees and compensation to be specified in written contracts, makes all bids public record, and clarifies that bidding may be done in stages.  The bill was sponsored by Sen. Todd Lakey of Nampa and Rep. Jeff Thompson of Idaho Falls, and will take effect July 1, 2016.

Levying for Foregone Tax Revenue: House Bill 474, which passed this session, provides a process that must be followed when cities decide to levy for forgone property tax revenue.  The bill requires any city, county or nonschool taxing district to pass a resolution prior to levying for forgone property taxes  stating the governing board's intent to use the forgone levying authority, the amount of forgone revenue to be included in the tax levy for that fiscal year and the purpose for which the forgone revenue will be used. The governing board is also required to hold a hearing on the forgone levy in conjunction with the annual budget hearing.  House Bill 474 was sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle of Star.  Section 1 of the bill takes effect July 1, 2016 and Section 2 of the bill takes effect July 1, 2017.

Sexual Assault Evidence Kits: In response to media articles on major differences between Idaho cities and counties in terms of the number of sexual assault evidence kits that are sent for testing, Rep. Melissa Wintrow of Boise sponsored legislation to establish a comprehensive system for testing and tracking these kits.  House Bill 528 was passed into law and takes effect July 1, 2016. 

The bill requires testing of each sexual assault evidence kit by the Idaho State Police (ISP) Forensic Services Laboratory, with the following exceptions: (1) when there is no evidence to support a crime being committed, (2) when it is no longer being investigated as a crime, or (3) when an adult victim expressly indicates otherwise. The bill also requires ISP to promulgate rules to create a tracking process for kits in the possession of ISP and other law enforcement agencies. The bill also provides for a report within 180 days of the effective date of the legislation by ISP concerning all untested kits in Idaho, and annual reporting concerning testing of kits.

Vicious Dogs: Rep. Mike Moyle of Star led an effort to beef up Idaho’s vicious dog laws in the wake of a tragic Rottweiler attack on the 6-year old granddaughter of former Eagle Mayor and AIC President Nancy Merrill.  Moyle worked closely with the Idaho Humane Society in drafting the language and the first version of the bill—House Bill 470—included language preempting local ordinances with breed specific restrictions.  AIC consulted with Rep. Moyle as he was redrafting the bill and the breed specific preemption language was removed from the final bill—House Bill 525.  Local governments are allowed to adopt stricter regulations, including breed specific regulations, but must allow for acts of justified provocation (the victim was trespassing on private property, the dog was protecting its offspring, the victim had abused the dog in the past, etc.)  The bill was passed into law and will take effect immediately upon signature by the Governor. 

Plastic Container Preemption: Legislation that eliminates the authority of cities and counties to regulate plastic bags and bottles passed despite vocal opposition from AIC and the Idaho Association of Counties.  House Bill 372, sponsored by Rep. Clark Kauffman of Filer and Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls, preempts local governments from enacting any regulation, taxation or fee applying to plastic bags and bottles at the retail, manufacturer or distributor level. The bill includes an exception for use of such containers at local events.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

Piggybacking on State Contracts: House Bill 541 allows local governments to piggyback onto contracts for purchasing of personal property or services by the state Division of Purchasing or the state Department of Administration, whether or not the state contracts have been competitively bid.  The bill takes effect July 1, 2016.

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Urban Renewal Bill Passes without AIC’s Amendment

Posted By Justin Ruen, Monday, March 28, 2016

On Friday the Idaho Legislature adjourned sine die, allowing legislators to head home to enjoy the Easter weekend with their families. 

The final day of the session was especially challenging as it became clear that morning that AIC's amendment to House Bill 606—the urban renewal reform bill—that passed the Senate the previous day could imperil the bill’s passage in the House. 

After consulting with legislative leadership, AIC decided to allow the amendment to be removed from the bill to ensure the bill’s successful passage.  HB 606 passed the Senate by a vote of 24-11-0 and passed the House Friday by a vote of 56-11-3.

House Bill 606 will provide needed certainty for businesses around the state that have invested in Idaho communities—including Chobani and Clif Bar in Twin Falls, two of Idaho’s highest profile economic development victories over the past decade. 

There are currently conflicting provisions in Idaho law concerning whether the base assessment roll is reset when an urban renewal plan is amended.  HB 606 resolves these conflicts and provides much needed clarity for businesses, local governments, the State Tax Commission and others. 

The grandfather clause in HB 606 will allow plans currently in existence to be amended in the future without having the base reset. 

HB 606 resolves the critical base reset issue legislatively and eliminates the possibility of an adverse court ruling that could potentially have a devastating effect on economic development efforts throughout the state.

We greatly appreciate the help of all the city officials who called, emailed and texted legislators to support AIC on this important legislation.  Your engagement is truly essential to AIC's legislative advocacy efforts.

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Listening to the Urban Renewal Hearing This Afternoon

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

This afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time (Noon Pacific) the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 606, the legislation sponsored by the Urban Renewal Interim Committee.

City officials can listen to the hearing via the Idaho in Session: Legislature Live website.  

Scroll down the page to "Committees/Locations" and select "Committees."  

Under "Choose a committee type," select "Senate."  

Under "Choose a committee," select "Local Government and Taxation (WW53)."  

Finally, click "Launch a media player."  

If you use Google Chrome as your web browser, you will need to select "Try the Chrome/iOS device stream" at the top of the page that pops up with the media player.

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Urban Renewal Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Wed., March 23

Posted By Justin Ruen, Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Today, the Idaho House of Representatives passed House Bill 606—the urban renewal reform bill sponsored by the legislative Urban Renewal Interim Committee—by a vote of 52-17-1.  The bill will be up for hearing before the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. 

 

We encourage city officials to be in attendance to testify and if possible, find representatives of local businesses and Chambers of Commerce to testify as well.

  

We appreciate the tremendous work that the Interim Committee has invested in the process and in this legislative proposal.  AIC's concern is that provisions of the bill requiring a base reset in the case of future plan amendments will tie the hands of local officials who work hard to attract new businesses and jobs to Idaho communities.  Protecting urban renewal as a vital tool for economic growth and job creation is integral to the future success of our state and communities.  

 

It is very important for legislators to hear real life examples of economic development opportunities that required plan amendments like those that would be prohibited for future urban renewal plans if House Bill 606 is passed without amendment.

 

If you are unable to attend the hearing in person, we ask that you email members of the committee.  Again, it is very helpful to identify urban renewal projects in your community that required plan amendments and how these projects have benefitted your community.  

 

Contact information for the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee is as follows:

 

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, Terreton, Chair:  jsiddoway@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Jim Guthrie, Inkom, Vice Chair: jguthrie@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Curt McKenzie, Nampa: cmckenzie@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Dan Johnson, Lewiston: djohnson@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Jim Rice, Caldwell:  jrice@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Steve Vick, Dalton Gardens: sjvick@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Clifford Bayer, Meridian: cbayer@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Michelle Stennett, Ketchum: mstennett@senate.idaho.gov

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, Boise: gburgoyne@senate.idaho.gov

 

 

SUMMARY OF HOUSE BILL 606A

 

Section 1: Amends Section 50-2006, Idaho Code, relating to urban renewal agency governance.

 

1.  Authorizes the city council to remove an urban renewal commissioner from office for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or misconduct.

2.  Removes provisions of Idaho law that authorize the urban renewal board to fill board vacancies by appointment. That authority is now given to the mayor with the consent of the council.

3.  Prohibits a majority of the city council from serving on an urban renewal commission. City councilors and the mayor may serve on the urban renewal board, provided that they do not constitute a majority of the commission.

4.  Allows a city council to insert itself as the urban renewal commission by ordinance for only up to one (1) year.

5.  Authorizes the city council to enact an ordinance requiring urban renewal commissioners to stand for election. The election would be governed by municipal election law.

6.  Requires that urban renewal commissioners must at minimum reside within the political boundaries of the county in which the agency is located.

 

 

Section 2: Amends Section 50-2033, Idaho Code, to set forth basic conditions in which urban renewal plans can be amended.

 

1.  Clarifies the scenarios in which an urban renewal plan can be amended for boundary changes.

 

 

Section 3: Amends Section 50-2903, Idaho Code, to add code references to other code sections.

 

1.  Adds references to new code sections created pursuant to this bill.

 

2.  Provides for a grandfather clause to allow urban renewal plans created before July 1, 2016 to be amended for any purpose without resulting in a base reset.

 

 

Section 4: Creates a new Section 50-2903A, Idaho Code, to set forth the conditions under which an urban renewal plan can be amended without resetting the base assessment value.

 

1.  Establishes that an urban renewal plan created on or after July 1, 2016 can be only amended for the following reasons without resulting in a base reset:

a.  To make technical or ministerial plan amendments,

b.  To make a plan amendment that increases the revenue allocation area boundary by up to 10%,

c.  To de-annex parcels from a revenue allocation area, or

d.  To make a plan amendment to support growth of an existing commercial or industrial project in an existing revenue allocation area.

2.  Importantly, the most negative impact, should this bill become law, any urban renewal plan amendment to accommodate a new economic development project will result in a resetting of the base assessment value and loss of existing tax increment (as noted below, any outstanding debt will be protected and will not lose the increment necessary to meet debt obligations).

3.  Requires that the state tax commission, the county clerk, and the county assessor be notified of any urban renewal plan amendments.

4.  If plan modifications are deemed to have occurred for a non-approved reason (other than a-d above), the base assessment value will be reset and accrued tax increment will be lost.

5.   If the base assessed value is reset and there is any indebtedness that cannot be repaid, the urban renewal agency will continue to receive any tax increment necessary to meet debt obligations.

6.  Any tax increment in excess of what is necessary to meet debt obligations will be returned to eligible taxing districts and go into their respective base budgets.

 

 

Section 5: Amends Section 50-2905, Idaho Code, relating to the content of revenue allocation area plans.

 

1.  Requires that a revenue allocation area plan must state with specificity details about the types of projects that are contemplated.

2.  Requires that any changes to an urban renewal plan be noticed and completed in an open public meeting.

 

 

Section 6: Creates a new Section 50-2905A, Idaho Code relating to the expenditure of certain urban renewal funds for public buildings.

 

1.  Allows for up to 51% of the project costs of certain public buildings to be paid for by urban renewal revenues.

2.  If more than 51% of project costs for specified public buildings are to be spent on the building, the proposal must be approved by 60% of city voters.

3.  The voting provisions only apply to the following public buildings: an administrative building, a city hall, a library, a courthouse, a public safety building, a fire station, a jail or detention facility, or a judicial building.

4.  All other types of buildings, infrastructure, or other public improvements not listed under the term “municipal building” may be funded 100% without the need of voter approval. 

 

 

Section 7: Creates a new Section 50-2913, to establish urban renewal reporting requirements and penalties for non-compliance.

 

1.  Establishes a central repository to be managed by the state tax commission for urban renewal agencies to upload urban renewal plans and urban renewal plan amendments.

2.  Urban renewal agencies that fail to comply with reporting requirements will experience a onetime loss of new increment and a temporary loss of property tax replacement revenues.

3.  There are no protections for any debt for which repayment is reliant upon the new increase in increment revenues which may jeopardize any debt obligations and make it more difficult to secure financing for future projects.

4.  The online reporting requirements will be effective January 1, 2017.

 

 

Section 8: Amends Section 63-301A, Idaho Code, relating to the new construction roll.

 

1.  Clarifies that in the event of a base reset due to a prohibited plan amendment, any lost increment revenues will go to the respective taxing districts and be included in their respective base budgets.

2.  Clarifies that in the event of an amendment to de-annex parcels, any increment revenues associated with the de-annexation will go to the respective taxing districts and be included in their respective base budgets.

 

 

 

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AIC Records Retention Bill Passes Senate

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, March 17, 2016

AIC's records retention bill passed the Senate by a vote of 34-0-1 yesterday and now awaits signature by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.  

We greatly appreciate the help of the bill's sponsors: Rep. John McCrostie of Garden City and Sen. Michelle Stennett of Ketchum.

Also thanks to the city officials who contacted legislators in support of House Bill 443

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