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The End of the Legislative Session Approaches

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, March 22, 2019

The end of this year’s legislative session is fraught with tension as the Legislature faces major decisions on Medicaid funding and transportation funding that have yet to be resolved. 

We greatly appreciate the high level of engagement from city officials this session and grassroots advocacy has been instrumental in protecting cities’ interests this session.

We will briefly cover where the major issues sit and how city officials can help as we approach the homestretch.

Annexation

One of the most significant victories this session was the defeat of House Bill 130, which was held in the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee after cities expressed concerns about the bill’s provisions concerning highway and railroad rights-of-way.  But annexation remains a very live issue for legislators and AIC committed to look at the issue over the interim to see if there are potential reforms to the law.

Online Sales Tax

City officials weighed in strongly asking that House Bill 259 on online sales and use tax collection be sent to the Senate amending order for changes and that effort was successful.  AIC is working hard to protect cities’ interests and it is expected that some compromise will be necessary (e.g. like a sunset of the revenue sharing diversion after a few years).

Transportation Funding

There is still considerable work for transportation funding issues to be resolved.

Senate Bill 1201 was passed by the Senate 19-15-1 and now awaits a hearing in the House Transportation & Defense Committee.  The bill would phaseout the Idaho State Police from the Highway Distribution Account (HDA) over five years beginning in FY 2021 and concluding in FY 2025, resulting in an additional $18 million to the HDA after full phaseout.

Senate Bill 1126 passed the Senate this week by a unanimous vote.  The bill would extend the surplus eliminator for five years, with half of state general fund surplus revenue being dedicated to the Strategic Initiatives Fund for transportation projects that is split 60% to ITD and 40% to local highway jurisdictions.  The bill’s fate in the House is uncertain.

It would be helpful for city officials to weigh in with legislators asking that any transportation funding package include local highway jurisdictions (cities, counties and highway districts) and discussing the significant road and bridge needs that we have at the local level.

Urban Renewal

This remains a very live issue as House Bill 217 was sent by the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee to the amending order for changes that will likely be drafted this weekend.  AIC will be working diligently to protect cities’ interests on this legislation.  Cities are encouraged to weigh in with members of the Senate, sharing your perspectives on how important urban renewal is as an economic development tool and how it has been used successfully to revitalize downtowns.    

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