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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 

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.


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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:

Rep. Jason A. Monks, Nampa, Vice Chair:

Rep. Lynn M. Luker, Boise:

Rep. Brent J. Crane, Nampa:

Rep. Joe Palmer, Meridian:

Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens:

Rep. James Holtzclaw, Meridian:

Rep. Steven Harris, Meridian:

Rep. Randy Armstrong, Inkom:

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, White Bird:

Rep. Dustin Manwaring, Pocatello:

Rep. Christy Zito, Hammett:

Rep. Heather Scott, Blanchard:

Rep. Elaine Smith, Pocatello:

Rep. Paulette E. Jordan, Plummer:

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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

Questions about community eligibility may be directed to Jerry Miller at 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 or 208-287-0780.

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

Links to register for the webinars are provided below.  

February 12, 2018

2:30 – 3:30 MST (1:30 -2:30 PST)


February 20, 2018

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


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2018 AIC Water Summit - Presentations

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, January 26, 2018

The second AIC Water Summit, held in Boise on January 22, 2018, focused on current and emerging water policy issues affecting Idaho cities.  AIC is grateful to our presenters and for the quality engagement by so many of our members!

Please find the presentations here, and look for the summary from our regional break-out sessions in an upcoming post.

Cooperative Federalism: Dave Clark, HDR & Haley Falconer, Boise City

Stormwater Management & Funding: Troy Tymeson, City of Coeur d’Alene

Stormwater Program Planning: Les MacDonald, City of Moscow

Idaho Water Recharge: Brain Patton, Idaho Department of Water Resources

Water Re-Use – Decentralized Non-Potable Re-Use: Tristian Bounds, Orenco Systems

Boise Re-Use Fact Sheet: Kate Harris, Boise City

Meridian Re-Use Fact Sheet: Laurelei McVey, City of Meridian

Moscow Re-Use Fact Sheet: Les MacDonald, City of Moscow

Municipal Water Rights: Chris Bromely & Candice McHugh, McHugh Bromley PLLC, Idaho Water Law Attorneys

Idaho Primacy & Water Quality Update: Mary Anne Nelson & Don Essig, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

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Thanks for Making City Officials' Day at the Capitol a Success!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, January 25, 2018

We extend our appreciation to the over 170 city elected officials and staff who participated in the 2018 City Officials' Day at the Capitol on Tuesday. 

The event kicked off in the morning with remarks from Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives Scott Bedke of Oakley and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder of Boise.  Speaker Bedke confirmed that the Legislature is working hard to fix the error in last session's transportation funding bill for the Strategic Initiatives Program and get that money to local governments as soon as possible.

We also heard from a panel of legislators including Sen. Maryanne Jordan of Boise, Sen. Kelly Anthon of Burley, Rep. Tom Loertscher of Bone, and Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa.  

There were in-depth discussions on important policy areas that the Legislature is expected to address this year, including magistrate court funding and campaign finance.  

We were fortunate to have nearly all of the 105 members of the Legislature in attendance for lunch, where legislators were presented with a copy of the newly released Idaho's 200 Cities books, available now from Ridenbaugh Press.

Thanks again for your help in making City Officials' Day a success!

 Attached Thumbnails:

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House State Affairs Committee Kills Financial Disclosure Bill

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, January 18, 2018

One of the most significant bills of the session was defeated yesterday morning as the House State Affairs Committee voted overwhelmingly to kill a bill sponsored by the committee’s chair—Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona—to require state and local elected officials and candidates to disclose personal financial information.

The legislation would have required candidates for state, legislative, county and city office to file annual reports identifying their primary employer and occupation or job title; all entities they own or for which they are an officer; every entity that has paid them $5,000 or more in income in the past year; each entity in which they own stocks or bonds (not mutual funds) valued at more than $5,000; any boards on which they serve; and their spouse’s name, occupation and employer.  A legislative work group looking at reforms to Idaho’s Sunshine Law unanimously supported the financial disclosure bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Loertscher, told the committee, “Financial disclosure of elected officials is in your future, because this will happen at some point,” possibly through the citizen initiative process if the Legislature fails to act on the issue.  “The point of this legislation and the way this is written is to make this the least intrusive way I can think of for us to accomplish that.”

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, argued that the legislation could allow public officials and their family members to be targeted because of the official’s beliefs.  “To focus on legislator sources of income, spousal sources of income, is to put a target on our back to many groups and individuals nationwide that would work to silence various ideologies, various voices, by attacking the economics.”

It is not clear whether the sponsor will bring back the legislation in a different form, but AIC is monitoring this issue. 

AIC’s perspective is that the current process where elected officials declare their conflicts of interest on the record at a public meeting works well, it does not require a bunch of paperwork, and it is done in a public forum so that members of the governing board and the public are on notice as to the existence and extent of the conflict.  AIC is dedicated to helping local officials understand Idaho’s ethics and conflict of interest laws and provides extensive training covering those areas.


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