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ID Legislature Finishes Its 2021 Session, For Now

Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho legislature has adjourned, for now. The Senate is apparently done for the year, but the House has held open the possibility of returning.

Now that the final gavel has fallen, legislators are taking some time to talk about what they’ve done.Legislative leaders from both parties held conference calls with reporters Thursday morning to talk about their accomplishments.
House Speaker Scott Bedke started his list with a lowering of state income tax rates across all income levels and one-time income tax rebates.
"Then we wanted to do roads and we did that. Then we wanted to do something to improve the property tax situation and we’ve done that," he said.
Bedke says the legislature also accomplished another goal: limiting some of the governor’s power in emergency situations.
While Republicans focused on things they did, Democrats focused on the things they didn’t do.
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett said working people’s interests were generally ignored. She said she and her colleagues proposed increasing Idaho’s grocery tax credit and using the state surplus to reduce property taxes.
“The majority party denied the Democrats a hearing at each point. A bipartisan bill to fund full-day kindergarten also died, in a year where the state is flush with funds due to spending holdbacks, a rebounding economy in some sectors and some federal Covid relief funds," she said.
The legislature refused to accept a six million dollar federal grant to help local child care organizations, a proposal pushed by Rep. Paul Amador [R-Coeur d'Alene]. Opponents say they were leery of the bureaucratic strings attached to the money.
While the Senate adjourned, the House did not, giving itself the option of calling itself back into session later in the year. Ordinarily only the governor can call a legislature back outside of a regular session. Legislative leaders say they may want to weigh in on how the state is spending federal Rescue Act money and how federal census numbers due in the fall will affect the state political redistricting effort.