[Vision2020] Legislative Update 8 - Feb 11-15, 2008

ttrail at moscow.com ttrail at moscow.com
Fri Feb 15 16:39:09 PST 2008



We are at the halfway mark of the 2008 Legislative session.  The House
Pages finished their six weeks of work and held a graduation ceremony
today.  We will be getting in another group next week.  Blaise McPhereson
from Deary served as a House Page.  His future goal in life is to become a
country fiddler and a lawyer for the ACLU  --  quite a combination.

Discouraging economic news continued to cloud major decision.  It still
seems a long way to facing up to some of the major legislative decisions
that we need to make.  Some highlights of the week:

  1.  SB12306  --  Dog fighting/felony penalty  --  A major victory was
finally achieved after four years of working for the passage of this law.
The bill passed the House on a 67-0 margin.  I can remember how I first
became involved in this issue.  Becky Phillips, a retired Vet, who worked
in Genesee called me up one morning.  I talked with her and she showed me
pictures of dogs that had been ravaged including family pets who were
kidnapped and used for training bait.  Four years has passed by since then,
and we now await the signature of the bill by Governor Otter who has
already said that he will sign the bill.

      Over the years I have received more calls, e mails, and letters of
support on this one issue than on any other.  The Michael Vick case greatly
increased the awareness of the issue, and the successful prosecution of a
dog fighting case in Oneida County proved that we had dog fighting in
Idaho.  This now leaves Wyoming as the only state without a felony penalty.

  2.  HJM 36  --Rep. Ringo, Sen. Schroeder, and I worked on a resolution
calling on the Legislature to congratulate the University of Idaho for the
success of the International Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and the National
Medal of Performing Art Award presented to the University in Washington,
D.C.  The University was the only public institution in the past several
years to receive this award.

  3.  State Employee Salaries and Benefits  -Governor Otter originally
requested a 5% salary increase for state employees with some reduction in
medical benefits.  The economic situation has probably scaled back the
figure to 3%.  A recommendation will probably be coming out this next week.

  4.  Grocery Credit  --  I talked with Rep. Dennis Lake today about any
progress on this front.  One proposal has already been voted down by the
Rev and Tax Committee.  Rep. Lake said they were awaiting a proposal by the
Governor and that he understood there were two other proposals coming to
the committee.

  5.  ISTARs  --  Superintendent Luna has come out with a remodeled merit
teacher pay proposal.  None of us have seen the legislation yet; however,
one major change has been to drop the Category 4 Contract which was an
issue that the majority of teachers were against.  There were also
constitutional issues with the Category 4 Contract according to an Attorney
General's opinion.  Apparently, the Idaho Education Association was
excluded from this round of negotiations.  The Superintendent has always
stated that all stakeholders should be involved in the negotiation process
and that the process should be transparent and accountable. We'll look with
interest at the Round II proposal.

  6.  Gun Billed Pulled by Senate Sponsor  --  a bill which sought to
legalize the carrying of concealed weapons on college campuses was pulled
by its sponsor, Sen. McKenzie.

  7.  HB428  --  This bill passed the House.  The bill would authorize in
depth scientific studies and comprehensive management plans for aquifers
throughout Idaho.  The bill creates a statewide comprehensive aquifer
planning and management effort to be coordinated by the Idaho Water
Resources Board and the Idaho Department of Water Resources.  The program
would be funded by a $20 million appropriation from the General Fund.  The
money will be used for modeling, technical studies, hydrologic monitoring
measurement and the development of comprehensive management plans.  If
funding is obtained then the Coeur d'Alene and Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer
would be the first to be studied in North Idaho and then the Moscow area. 
About $2.5 million would be allocated to the Moscow area.

Those are some of the weeks highlights.  Please send your comments and
recommendations to me by e mail at ttrail at house.idaho.gov.  My phone is

Rep. Tom Trail

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