Amid a two-week COVID hiatus, House spokesman Scott Bedke explained where Republican lawmakers want to go when the session resumes.
BOISE, Idaho – House spokesman Scott Bedke says lawmakers will take the first step when the 2021 legislature resumes after a two-week hiatus due to a COVID outbreak in the statehouse.
“We have just taken a break from all the topics that were before us at the time. We didn’t delete anything, so we’ll start again right away, ”said Bedke.
There is a short list of points that need to be addressed, and the GOP leadership says they are focusing on one thing that many Idaheans talk about – property taxes. Bedke explains what a possible solution looks like.
“I think something that will prevent your property taxes from getting double-digit year over year is what people want,” Bedke said.
Bedke points out that state legislation sets the parameters of property taxes and that it is also up to local governments to make prudent decisions. Regardless, Bedke says he knows lawmakers want to address concerns about the recent increases.
“We have to work on it, and we have to iron it out, and I don’t think we should go until we have at least a cap on the amount that the estimated values, your property taxes, can grow,” Bedke said.
Legislators were asked by Governor Brad Little back in January to step up investment in Idaho’s infrastructure to cope with the many labor-intensive roads and bridges across the state. Little outlined a $ 80 million proposal. In the late stages of the session, Bedke says lawmakers will be ready to act on the legislation.
“That’s pretty easy to explain. All it does is increase the amount of money that comes out of the general fund, especially sales tax, and allow it to go to the highway distribution account and Idaho transportation division,” said Bedke.
Of the open questions that the legislature has to clarify, Bedke says that investing in infrastructure should be the easiest.
“There aren’t a lot of moving parts there. It’s just about putting more money into transportation and removing some of the obstacles ITD has in bonding these projects,” Bedke said.
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An important topic of conversation throughout the session was, of course, the balance of power between the governor’s office and the legislature. Bedke believes that it was a learning moment for many legislators to take the path of adapting executive and emergency powers in order to deal with the specifics of executive powers. Nevertheless, he is confident that measures will be taken to achieve a balance of power that the legislature is looking for.
“The chainsaw has been replaced with a scalpel and we will act in a way that will not necessarily be restored, but will restore the balance of power to the way it should be, and optimize the statutes, which in most cases has not been in over 50 years more were touched. Said Bedke.
Bedke expects about two weeks of work if the legislature returns before the end of the session. He says lawmakers kept working during the break and kept going as much as possible.
“I asked the players who are in the middle of these negotiations as much as possible to come back on the 6th with solutions and not new problems,” said Bedke.
Legislators are expected to resume the session on April 6th.
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