Idaho Capitol

Idaho Capitol

Here are links to stories on today's legislative action from my colleagues at the Idaho Press and the Post Register:

KEEPING IDAHO SCHOOLS AS POLLING PLACES: Legislation was introduced Wednesday to ensure Idaho’s public schools remain a place to vote on Election Day, writes Idaho Press reporter Savannah Cardon, despite safety concerns some have raised. “Finding adequate places to vote is becoming increasingly difficult,” said Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, co-sponsor of the bill. “Without the use of our schools, we will be forced to look at other methods of voting.” The bill was introduced in the House State Affairs Committee, clearing the way for a full hearing. You can read Cardon’s full report here at (subscription required), or pick up Thursday’s Idaho Press.

FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT: Gov. Brad Little’s proposal to create tax-deductible savings account for first-time homebuyers was introduced in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee on Wednesday, writes reporter Nathan Brown of the Post Register. The bill, which is being sponsored by Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, would create pre-tax accounts people could use for a down payment on a first home. People could put in as much money they want. An individual could deduct up to $3,000 a year tax-free, a couple $6,000. You can read Brown’s full report here.

URBAN RENEWAL BILL HITS SNAG: House-passed legislation that would require a 55 percent vote before any public building, library or sports stadium could use urban renewal funds has hit a snag in the Senate, writes Idaho Press reporter Margaret Carmel. Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, said he will not schedule a hearing HB 217 as it is currently written because of concerns it doesn’t “take into consideration all of the stakeholders.” “Sometimes when we try and address a problem in one locale, we can do damage to the situation in the rest of the state,” Rice said.

However, he said he is open to talking with the bill sponsors to come to an agreement so it can move forward. One of the bill’s sponsors, House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, said he is willing to work with Rice to find a compromise by discussing a minimum threshold for spending needed to trigger a vote. You can read Carmel’s full report here at (subscription required), or pick up Thursday’s Idaho Press.

UNINSURED DRIVERS: Idaho drivers would get notices if their vehicle’s insurance lapses and their registration would be suspended if they don’t get insurance after being notified, under legislation that passed the House 54-15 on Wednesday, writes Idaho Press reporter Nathan Brown. Sponsored by freshman Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, the bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, giving ITD time to set up the system. Insurance companies would report data to ITD, as they do already for the state’s online insurance verification system, but now ITD would align it with its vehicle registration database. Owners of uninsured vehicles would get an initial notice after being uninsured for two months, giving them 30 days to get insurance. If the owner doesn’t comply, he or she would then get a final suspension notice. Someone whose registration is revoked would have to pay a $75 fee to re-register.

Furniss, an insurance broker by profession, said the Idaho State Police write about 1,000 tickets a month for driving without insurance, Brown reports. “I’ve been hit twice by an uninsured motorist,” Furniss said. “It’s not a fun deal for the person that hits you to tell you they don’t have insurance.” The bill still needs Senate passage and the governor’s signature to become law; you can read Brown’s full report here.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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