Legislative Report – 2015
Idaho 2015 Legislative Profile
Governor: C.L. “Butch” Otter (R)Legislative Majorities:
Idaho 2015 Session Overview
In the 2014 elections Idaho Republican candidates continued to dominate by sweeping all constitutional elected offices and 84 of 105 legislative seats. Many pundits wondered if the Tea Party fringe would capture some statewide seats but that did not happen. Idaho remains very conservative yet operating within a “traditional” republican platform.
The House remains a “divided” House starting at the top with a significant tea party-type alignment inside the House majority leadership. The House Speaker spends a good deal of time balancing and adjusting committees and bill assignments to avert negative press resulting from intra-party fighting on the floor. This divide hampers objective, forthright debate on issues and across-the-isle coalition building. As a result, the lopsided majorities in both chambers leave much work to do on some issues trying to find a majority within the majority to pass a bill, any bill.
Predicting issue outcome is tricky business. For example, this conservative legislature passed new taxes and fees for road and bridge maintenance and construction though refused to consider a minimum wage proposal and held it in committee without a hearing; floated numerous proposals to repeal the sales tax on groceries but passed none; reauthorized an income tax credit for citizens, business and corporate foundations donating to schools and libraries; and increased general fund appropriation levels for teachers salaries by introducing a new career ladder formula.
Lastly, in an unusual circumstance, the legislature refused to consider a bill to align Idaho’s child support systems with U.S. systems and other countries (if part of international treaties). This anti-federal sentiment required a one-day extraordinary session (May 18, 2015) to be called by the Governor for retooling and reconsideration of the legislation.
The 2015 Legislative Session began January 12, 2015 and adjourned sine die April 11, 2015 (and the extraordinary session convened /adjourned May 18). When the Legislature adjourned sine die on April 11th, it had been in session for 89 days. The 2015 legislative session, the longest since 2009, was 15 days longer than the 2014 session.
During the 2015 session, 763 proposed pieces of legislation were prepared for legislative committees and individual legislators. From that initial group of draft proposals, 523 bills were introduced (assigned a bill number), along with another 72 resolutions, memorials and proclamations. By the end of the session, 351 bills had passed but after the Governor’s review only 347 bills became law. Four bills were vetoed by the Governor and one bill received a line-item veto. The majority of the new laws became effective July 1, 2015.
Proposed bills throughout the session were read and analyzed to determine any impact upon the grocery business. The Idaho NWGA lobby team tracked 37 bills containing direct and indirect significance to NWGA members. This report presents only those bills that held a real possibility at some time of becoming law. Some bills introduced presented consequences in how NWGA members may operate their businesses, and some resulted in new taxes, fees, regulations and mandates; and fortunately, a few other bills benefitted grocery employers and businesses.
NWGA Sponsored Legislation
There was no NWGA sponsored legislation.
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NWGA Lobby Team:
Legislative Director & Oregon Lobbyist