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January Legislative Update

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, January 29, 2020

This year’s legislative session has hit full stride, with committees considering state agency rules and bills being introduced.  The best way to keep up to speed on what is happening in the Capitol is checking the AIC Bill Tracker and the AIC Bill Summaries on the AIC website under the Legislative tab.

You can also find a wealth of information and other resources on the Idaho Legislature’s website, including Senate Committee Agendas, House Committee Agendas, bills by number or by subject, and live online streaming of committee meetings and floor sessions.  For city officials interested in property tax policy, there are lots of informative presentations that were provided to the Property Tax Working Group that met over the interim to gather information on Idaho’s property tax system.

The most significant issues from AIC’s perspective relate to local government revenues, specifically property taxes.  Three major bills on property taxes were introduced last week in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee.

House Bill 353: Would restrict taxing district property tax budget increases to 3% over the highest dollar levy of the past three years.  Levies for new construction and annexation would have to fit within the 3% levy increase—they would not be in addition to the 3% limitation as is the case now.  The bill leaves in place ability to pursue temporary and permanent override levies.  Forgone levies would be restricted to forgone accrued prior to 2020; cities could continue to levy for forgone according to the process set by law after 2020, but no forgone would accrue in the future.  The AIC Board of Directors voted to oppose House Bill 353.  The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee.

House Bill 354: Would require taxing districts to pass a resolution annually to accrue forgone levying authority, otherwise it could not be levied in the future.  The resolution would need to specify the amount of forgone the taxing district wants to accrue, whether all or part of their forgone amount from the current Fiscal Year.  The council would pass the resolution after providing public notice and hearing.  The AIC Board of Directors voted to support House Bill 354 and it passed out of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, January 29 and will be up for floor consideration in the House in a few days.

House Bill 355: Would freeze taxing district property tax levies for one Fiscal Year, resulting in a reduction of from $80 to $130 million.  The AIC Board of Directors voted to oppose House Bill 355.  The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee.

Another major issue from the perspective of cities involves passing legislation on distracted driving and use of electronic devices while driving.  The House and Senate are approaching this policy area differently. 

House Bill 346, sponsored by House Transportation & Defense Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, would take a broader approach of defining distracted driving as operating a moving motor vehicle in a manner as to endanger or that is likely to endanger any person or property.  The bill provides that violation would be an infraction and local ordinances banning use of a handheld wireless device while driving would be preempted effective July 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 1250, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise and United Heritage Insurance, takes a very different approach, prohibiting the use of mobile electronic devices behind the wheel and making violation an infraction.  The bill provides exceptions for first responders and public utility employees, use in emergency situations, taking or receiving a call by one-touch access or voice command, and use in voice-operated or hands-free mode.  Local ordinances banning use of handheld wireless devices while driving would be preempted. 

The AIC Board has not taken an official position on the distracted driving bills as of this point, but one is expected soon.

We greatly appreciate the city officials who have contacted legislators this session!  Your grassroots involvement is key to AIC’s advocacy on behalf of cities.

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