2017 Legislative Roundup, Week 3

We are just finishing up the third week of the 2017 Idaho Legislative session and things are moving at a brisk pace.

Changes are coming for oil and gas.  Last year the Idaho Legislature approved legislation that put the pedal to the metal for state oil and gas permits.  Now, with competing oil and gas developers apparently at odds over how the state regulates the industry, Governor Otter and leaders in the Legislature have made it a priority to revisit the state’s policy on oil and gas development.

We got our first confirmation about how serious they really are this week when the House Resources & Conservation Committee unanimously rejected the state’s proposal.  These standards were negotiated all last summer by IORC members, allies, and industry.  Throughout the process we asked for greater transparency, accountability, and better protections for human health, safety, and the environment.

The big question mark?  Questions loom large about what legislators will propose for oil and gas policy in Idaho.  House Bill 64 was introduced this week by Idaho Department of Lands, but again it misses the mark and doesn’t provide adequate protections for Idaho.  Sources say there is a bill in the works from District Nine, Sen. Abby Lee, Rep. Ryan Kerby, and Rep. Judy Boyle.  That means they need to hear from you about why Idaho needs better oil and gas protections.  You can attend their town hall meetings February 4,* write letters to the editor, or reach out to your legislators.  Their contact information is here.

We will continue to monitor the Legislature and ask for your support to stop any attempts to give Idaho away to the oil and gas industry.

Food tracker 4000.  We are tracking proposals to repeal the 6% tax on groceries and the grocery tax credit.  Repealing the grocery tax has the potential to help low-income families, small food producers, and businesses in Idaho’s border communities that have to compete with lower tax rates in neighboring states.

Since the great recession the state of Idaho has turned a corner and generated more revenue than it spent.  This has politicians clamoring for tax cuts.  We’re here to make sure that if policy-makers are going to cut taxes it benefits all Idahoans, ensures education and healthcare are adequately funded, and does not disproportionately benefit large corporations and wealthy individuals.  We haven’t seen a proposal in writing yet this session, but legislators have expressed interest in revisiting the grocery tax issue.

It is our opinion that the grocery tax credit has been a successful piece of policy, and that it has now fulfilled its purpose.  Now we are working as part of a diverse coalition of family farmers, low-income households, food security advocates, and farmer’s markets to ask the legislature to live up to its promise to all Idahoans and pass a stand-alone grocery tax bill.

Want to support our work in the Legislature?  Your support is crucial to protecting Idaho’s natural resources and supporting independent food producers.  There are several ways you can help; by contacting your legislator, writing a letter to the editor, or donating to support our legislative campaigns.

*District Nine Town Halls, February 4, 2017
-11 am Council Courthouse
-1 pm Midvale Country Coffee Cabin
-3 pm Fruitland City Hall
-5 pm Notus Elementary