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The first session of the 62nd Idaho Legislature concluded on April 4 having lasted 88 days.  That made it the seventh longest session in the state’s history. 

Almost 40 percent of the legislators were considered freshmen in their respective houses (several House members had moved to the Senate so they really weren’t new to the process).  That may explain why there were substantially fewer bills (only 777) introduced this year than in any session of the past 44 years.   On the other hand, half of those bills were passed where a more typical session enacts about one-third of the proposed bills.

Jack Lyman, Lobbyist

This legislative session will be primarily remembered for two bills.  First was the establishment of a state health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. 

Second was the elimination of the personal property tax on the first $100,000 of personal property value a company has in a county.  This bill was less than many large, capital intensive companies had hoped for but did provide tax relief for about 85-90% of Idaho businesses. 

In addition to these two major issues the legislature adopted a balanced budget that included increases in several key areas including education (which consumes almost half of the general fund budget).   A disagreement about how education policy should be set resulted in the Senate rejecting the original education budget.  That disagreement extended the session several days but had little impact on the actual dollars appropriated.

The Idaho Housing Alliance sponsored House Bill 28 which eliminated the service company licensing provision from the law.  We learned that HUD does not exercise any regulatory authority over a manufactured home once it has been installed according to HUD requirements.  It just didn’t make sense to then require a variety of different contractors like plumbers and electricians to get a special license to work on manufactured homes.  Existing licensing statutes for these specialties will still apply and will provide consumer protection. 

The bill received just a single ‘no’ vote and that involved a question about background checks for the licensing of the remaining categories.  I spent time with Rep. Perry to assure she understood the issue and I am satisfied she would favor the bill now if given a chance to change her vote.

Moving this bill forward also gave us a chance to educate new legislators about the industry and some of our issues.  It also gave us a chance to identify individual legislators we will look to as our champions in future legislatures.  Rep. Gayle Batt from Wilder was our House sponsor.  She did a great job on the floor and seems willing to help us in the future.   She is particular important to us because she is a key member of the House Business Committee and Vice Chair of the State Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful committees in the House.

On the Senate side Senator Todd Lakey was our sponsor.  His floor debate was effective enough to result in a unanimous favorable vote in the Senate.


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