What We Learned From This Year’s Legislature
The Idaho Legislature after being in town for ninety five days ended its third longest session this week. As relieved legislators, lobbyists, and reporters move into the off season, here's a look at what was and what wasn't accomplished. The biggest letdown/disappointment is that lawmakers failed to live up to their campaign promises of last year to repeal the state's grocery tax. The repeal was the most topic for voters on the campaign trail. Sadly, the proposal never made it out of a committee for a hearing. The political spin from Bannock Street was that the state was in a financial shortfall and our elected leaders decided not to keep their word.
The same political body did find enough money to give state teachers a much need pay raise and engage in an eviction battle involving the state's treasurer. The legislature can afford to spend millions of dollars on part time offices, but cannot give their constituents a break on taxes. The eviction controversy grew to involve allegations of falsified documents according to the Idaho State Journal.
We'll continue to cover the grocery tax until it's repealed. Another big bill involved legalizing the hemp plant which surprisingly failed. Most insiders predicted it would pass easily. A last minute rush by law enforcement and a statement by Governor Little pushed its passage into oblivion.
Medicaid expansion was passed despite major concerns about paying for it. State Democrats believe the state will be sued, which is strange considering that many believe the initiative bill was vetoed over threats of lawsuits.
A major victory for Second Amendment protectors was the passing of the bill allowing 18-20 years olds the right to conceal carry without a permit in cities. The state has come along way thanks to grassroots and conservative legislators.
The session was long, combative, and contentious. However, just like a sports team that falls short of the championship, we have a long way to go before the job is done.