Senator Don Cheatham Newsletter – District 3
Below are some recent activities and highlights taking place in the Idaho Capitol. I hope you enjoy the information. For more details, you can log onto legislature.idaho.gov where you will find bills, committee recordings, and live stream videos of our House and Senate floor sessions. I look forward to your involvement.
Disabled veterans eligible for property tax benefits
Last Monday, the Idaho State Tax Commission announced that disabled veterans are now eligible for property tax relief—a benefit which could reduce their property tax bill by as much as $1,320 on their home or up to one acre of land. There are 122,955 veterans living in Idaho today, and the majority of them served during the Vietnam era. According to the commission, in order to qualify for property tax benefits veterans need a 100% service-connected disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). In addition, veterans must own and live in the home as their primary residence. Applications require written confirmation from the VA on their 100% service-connected disability status as of January 1, 2020. Applications must be delivered to the county assessor by April 15, 2020. Veterans with at least a 10% service-connected disability rating may also qualify for other property tax relief based on their income.
For eligibility requirements and applications, veterans can contact their local county assessor or visit the Tax Commission’s website. Contact numbers: (208) 334-7736 and (800) 334-7756 (toll free).
“Choose Life” license plate legislation signed into law
On Wednesday, Governor Little signed into law Senate Bill 1249, legislation for the “Choose Life” license plate in Idaho. Sponsored by Senator Regina Bayer, this bill provides Idahoans the option to purchase this unique license plate to express support for unborn children. Funds from the sales of these license plates will go toward the non-profit organization, Choose Life Idaho, Inc. that supports 14 pregnancy care centers throughout the state. In addition, these funds will also be used for education and to support adoption as a positive option for women. At present, “Choose Life” license plates are available in 32 states. Since the year 2000, over 1.2 million of these plates have been sold or renewed. The “Choose Life” license plates are expected to be available by January 2021. Click here to read more about Senate Bill 1249.
Legislators celebrate Idaho Day at the Capitol
Senators join fourth and fifth grade students from Lillian Vallely School in Blackfoot for a traditional Shoshone-Bannock musical performance. The Lillian Vallely School is a private elementary school serving Native American children from the Fort Hall Reservation in Southeastern Idaho.
This Wednesday, Idaho Legislators celebrated Idaho Day at the Capitol. The Idaho Legislature was honored to hear former Representative Linden B. Bateman, who served the Idaho House of Representatives from 1977 to 1986 and again from 2010 to 2016. Representative Bateman was sponsor of the legislation which established Idaho Day as a state holiday to be celebrated on March 4th, the same day in 1863 when President Lincoln signed the act to establish the Idaho Territory.
In the Lincoln Auditorium, the “Inspiring Idaho Women” program was held, featuring guest speakers First Lady Teresa Little, Gemma Gaudette, host of Idaho Matters at Boise State Public Radio, and Sherri Ybarra, Superintendent of Public Instruction. In the Senate chambers, Senators Regina Bayer and Van Burtenshaw coordinated the “2020 Idaho Day Program” featuring song and dance performances by young Shoshone-Bannock students from Lillian Vallely School in Blackfoot. Legislators also heard two beautiful songs by the Basque Trio—Dan Ansotegui, Teresa Franzoia Anacabe, and P.J. Mansisidor sang “Batasuna” (We Are All One People) and “Here We Have Idaho” on the Senate floor.
Idaho Insurance Council meets Legislators
This Monday, the Idaho Insurance Council held their annual legislative luncheon in downtown Boise to meet Idaho Legislators and professionals in the insurance industry. The Idaho Insurance Council is a non-lobbying forum through which all insurance organization and alliances form a closer liaison to advance the best interest of the industry and the State of Idaho. Director Dean Cameron with the Idaho Department of Insurance gave a presentation on the challenges and opportunities the insurance industry faces in Idaho.
What the 2018 Farm Bill means for hemp in Idaho?
The 2018 Farm Bill removes industrial hemp, Cannabis Sativa, from the list of controlled substances as long as there is no more than 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the plant or extracts. In short, the Farm Bill devolves power to the states to regulate hemp provided that each state has a plan to monitor and regulate crop production. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is regulated through a collaborative effort between law enforcement, the Governor’s office, and the state Department of Agriculture.
While the majority of states allow hemp to be grown, the Farm Bill permits Idaho to ban production of the crop. A license is required for states to legally grow hemp. In order for states to grow hemp, each state must demonstrate to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) a plan and procedure, including a record of where hemp is produced in the state, procedures to ensure the hemp produced meets the legal requirements of not exceeding more than 0.3 percent THC, procedures for disposing of materials with a THC concentration greater than 0.3 percent THC, and procedures for handling violations of the 2018 Farm Bill and the proposed state plan.
Legislation at a glance:
The following legislation may be of interest to you. Click here to stay updated on the complete list of bills, resolutions, proclamations, and memorials. Note: These bills are not necessarily law but rather issues legislatures are working through. Click the links to see where these bills lie.
H0310: Idaho Code 56-1004A, Criminal History and Background Checks, charges the Department of Health & Welfare with conducting background checks on individuals who provide care or services to vulnerable adults or children. This bill passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
H0326: Consistent with the Red Tape Reduction Act, this bill seeks to eliminate obsolete and unnecessary restrictions. Specifically, this would repeal the definition of Veterans listed in Section 65-502(17), Idaho Code, which conflicts with the definition of Veteran defined in Section 65-203, Idaho Code. Specifically, this will remove the more restrictive 180 service day requirement defined in Section 65-502(17), Idaho Code, which conflicts with the 90 service day requirement listed in Section 65-203, Idaho Code. This bill passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
H0345: This legislation amends Section 49-1806 by adding language to disallow booting a car for the sole basis of an expired or improper vehicle registration. This bill has passed the House, 61-8-1, and in the Senate, 33-1-1.
H0393: The proposed legislation consolidates elections to the third Tuesday of May of each year and the Tuesday following the first Monday in November each year. Passed in the House and sent to the Senate Education Committee.
H0480: Idaho has several School Districts that offer dual immersion language programs. This legislation recognizes students who have become proficient in English and one or more additional World Languages by creating a “Seal of Biliteracy” that may be attached to their graduation diploma. This legislation passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
H0523: The purpose of this legislation is to build out the career ladder allocation model and provide additional funding to school districts and charter schools so they can retain their most effective, experienced educators. The amendments in this bill build out the current salary-based apportionment model for instructional staff and pupil service staff over the next five years and adds a mechanism for the Legislature to consider increases after the five-year build out. This legislation passed the House and was sent to the Senate Education Committee.
H0528: (Unlawful Killing of Wildlife): This bill amends Section 36-1401, Idaho Code, to make clear that it is a felony to unlawfully kill, possess, or waste wildlife within a twelve-month period, whose single or combined statutory reimbursement value is greater than $1,000. On February 7, 2020, the Idaho Court of Appeals issued a decision in the case of State v. Huckabay, which changed the longstanding application of Section 36-1401(c)(3) to the unlawful killing, possession or waste of a single bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, trophy deer, trophy elk, or trophy pronghorn, which each has a reimbursement value under Section 36-1404, Idaho Code, of greater than $1,000. This bill is on the Second Reading Calendar in the Senate.
S1297: Amends Idaho Code by adding a new Section 49-420R to be designated as the “Too Great For Hate” specialty license plate. This bill passed the Senate by 28-7-0 on February 24th and is awaiting a hearing in House Transportation Defense Committee.
S1308: (Purchasing Tobacco Products) This legislation will bring Idaho Statute into compliance with federal regulation (Title 21 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act), which was signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2019, changing the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 years old to 21 years old. The legislation received a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate State Affairs Committee but did not pass on the Senate floor.
S1325: The purpose of this legislation is to provide a way for local school districts to “grow their own teachers.” Many rural districts are struggling to find and keep teachers. This legislation establishes programs under which non certified employees may seek certification while employed by the district. First, it allows a district to use professional development money to assist an employee teaching under a provisional certification in becoming certified. Second, it allows funds from the opportunity scholarship program to apply to non certified employees from a school district or public charter school who are seeking to become certified. This bill passed the Senate by 24-11-0 on February 24th and awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee.
SCR118: The purpose of this Concurrent Resolution is to establish March 14 as a day of recognition to be celebrated in perpetuity for Idaho Women. This concurrent resolution seeks to recognize and celebrate all the contributions that Idaho women have made and will continue to make in Idaho and across the country. The Concurrent Resolution was adopted in both the House and the Senate.