District 5 Lawmakers Look Back, and Ahead

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

Idaho District 5 legislators took a look back and a look ahead during a luncheon hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce on May 22.

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There were 522 bills introduced during the 2019 legislative session, along with another 67 resolutions, memorials, and proclamations, Paul Kimmell of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee told the gathering. 331 of those bills were passed; 329 became law. Most of those take effect on July 1.

The 95 day session was the third longest in Idaho history, and the longest since 2009.

“We were there for a long time,” State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R- Genesee) said. “We got grumpy with each other, I think, on the House side about day 70 to 75. So, we went twenty days too long.”

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Among other topics, Nilsson Troy told the luncheon about her hemp legislation, which wasn’t passed, and the resolution supporting the idea of a 611 national suicide prevention crisis hotline, which did pass, and said she is very passionate about the way the wine industry is growing in the region and is proud to carry related legislation.

Nilsson Troy serves on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which recently held a three day interim meeting. “One of the things we started out with was a review of where our revenue collections are right now,” she said. “We’re $91 million behind on individuals income tax collections…we are ahead, however, on corporate tax collections. We’re $46.5 million ahead of what projections were, and we’re almost $10 million ahead on sales tax collections than what the projections were…we’re about a little less than $40 million behind on our collections for the fiscal year which ends June 30th.”

State Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) said he was honored to serve this year. “It was a new experience for me to be in the legislature, and I found it really satisfying in a lot of ways. One, I got to help people a lot…and also being in the legislature lets you stick your finger in a lot of things and get some traction and learn some things.”

Of his committee work, Nelson said, “I became kind of a member of a rural group of senators trying to lead on transportation issues. It’s a bi-partisan group…trying to get more support so we can do good maintenance on our local roads, both county, city.” Nelson said HB 107 was amended to include funding to help maintain rural bridges in the state.

Looking ahead, Nelson said he’ll continue working on transportation issues, including looking at how the state decides on registration fees for heavy trucks. He’ll also work on having a more reliable source of funds for transportation. Nelson also expects a lot of focus next session on funding for Medicaid expansion.

State Rep. Bill Goesling (R-Moscow) said it was a privilege and an honor to serve the district this year. He said the session was “long, busy, and somewhat stressful,” “but, I think, very successful legislative session.”

Goesling says he spent most of his time looking at ways the state can improve education. He cited his bills on school safety and to allow rural school district boards to go into executive session with three members present instead of five. He said he co-sponsored the bill raising starting teacher pay.

“We started out the year way behind on revenue coming into the state, and that really impacted our ability to do a lot of things,” Goesling said.

Goesling also said the proposed change in the public school funding formula had to be pulled back because it wasn’t working.

For next session, Goesling said he will work on finalizing the student-based funding formula; increasing funding for master level teachers; and increasing medical education opportunities, and he said his goal is to increase WWAMI to 50 students, up from the current 40.

“The important thing to remember is that there are 105 legislators,” Nilsson Troy said, “and we each go with our own agenda and we can only take our own agenda with us. I think our actions, the three of (us), this past session, speak loudly in that we were very focused on issues that were important to this district.”

The update at the luncheon followed a series of forums also hosted by the Chamber of Commerce during the 2019 session.

Posted May 22, 2019

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