Weekly Legislative Update (February 11-15)

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The Idaho legislature remains busy doing the people’s businesses. Last week the Senate and House Health and Welfare Committees held a joint forum open to the public. Public testimony was provided on a range of issues of concern to the public.

This Monday the House and Senate Education Committees held a joint forum open to the public. Constituents, teachers, principals and superintendants were all able to explain to the lawmakers where they believe Idaho should go in regards to Education. On the same day the Senate Education Committee introduced 14 bills relating to education. The legislation had a wide range of sponsors from individual senators to the Idaho School Boards Association and Idaho Education Association.

On Wednesday the Senate celebrated a slightly delayed celebration of our nation’s 16th President’s birthday. The Senate’s outstanding outgoing pages sang and offered inspiring quotes to those in the chamber. Also, former long-time reporter Quane Keynon served in the place of Sen. Fred Martin.

On Thursday Committee chairs from the House and Senate reported to JFAC in preparation for the Committee’s budget-setting process. Senator Goedde, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, testified the Committee is focused on how best to increase efficiency, accountability and continue to invest in our future.

On Friday JFAC set their budget target for 2014 to be 3% over the current year’s appropriations. The move is in line with Governor Otter’s budget request.

Weekly Legislative Update (January 14-18)

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Monday: JFAC heard testimony from Idaho CAT Fund Director Roger Christiansen the fund handled more than 6,400 cases last year.  By comparison prior to 2010 the fund handled less than 2,000.  The CAT Fund Director attributed the increase in cases to mental health needs.  Christiansen is asking for more $2 million more in the budget this year.

Tuesday: On Tuesday lawmakers in the Health and Welfare Committee heard a report on foster parent rates and reimbursement rates in the Idaho.  Last year the Idaho Department of Health asked for and received $1 million in additional funding.  This year they are asking for an additional $500,000 to handle new foster parents.

Wednesday: Nationally the President called for Congress to act on his reforms and signed 23 executive orders; since the President’s signing leadership in the House and Senate is worked closely with the Governor’s office to streamline gun protection and public safety bills.

Thursday:  The House passed the first bill of the year, its standard conformance measure.  The bill is simply to make sure that filing your tax returns are as uncomplicated as possible.  The Education Committee also heard testimony on where the money freed up by repeal of the Luna Laws could go.

Friday: Leadership announced that JFAC would stop hearing public input after two years of doing so.  JFAC prior to 2010 had not heard from the public but in 2011 a pilot period of 2 days of the legislature the public could testify was implemented.