Skip to content

Legislative Summary for 2008

April 2008

First, let me say how good it is to be back home. I would also like to thank many of you who took the time to call and e-mail me your comments, concerns, and opinions during the recent legislative session. We also made history. The second regular session of the 59th Idaho Legislature became the first session in the state’s history to meet outside of the capitol building. With renovations underway, we are looking at a two year process in our temporary facility adjacent to the capital complex. This session was also conducted with seven fewer staff members to assist the legislators. Our cramped quarters dictated we do with less and it worked out just fine.

One of the major accomplishments started with fiscal responsibility. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC), did a good job in adjusting the state’s budget to the sudden changing conditions that faced Idaho’s economy. What began as the Governor’s proposal to increase overall state spending at 9.1% was cut by JFAC to 4.6% overall. This still allowed the legislature to fully fund—with some slight increases in certain areas—the programs and services that are important to Idahoans, thus avoiding the threat of any budgetary holdbacks. April is traditionally a pivotal month for revenue coming into the state’s coffers, with regard to tax collections on the 15th. This will be a good indicator on how wisely we as legislators set the budget and what may need to be done next year.

On the positive side, the House took the lead with two major tax relief initiatives. One was the grocery tax credit and the other one was the personal property tax imposed on business equipment. The grocery tax credit is aimed at eventually offsetting the sales tax paid on groceries. Labeled as one of the most unfair taxes, the personal property tax on business equipment changes were reached in a House-Senate Conference Committee. Under the compromise, business owners will be allowed up to $100,000 exemption on business equipment. This gives tax relief to approximately 88% of Idaho businesses.

There is still unfinished business. One is the important task of fixing Idaho’s transportation needs. We did request a performance review evaluation for the transportation department, which was approved by all parties. This will help the citizens of Idaho in having more confidence in this agency’s operations. The other is the continuing effort to improve our education system.

As I complete my first term in the House, and with the retirement of State Senator Mel Richardson, I announced in early March my candidacy to run for that seat. Mel’s shoes will be hard to fill, but I’m ready to represent the constituents in the Senate in Legislative District 32. It has been a pleasure serving you in the House, and with your continued support, I look forward to serving you as the next State Senator from Bonneville County.

Thank you for the opportunity you have entrusted in me to represent you in the legislative process. I recognize this responsibility and I take my oath seriously. I continue to pledge my best efforts and time. If you would like to contact me with any questions, issues, or concerns, please e-mail me at dmortimer@house.idaho.gov. You can also obtain a Sine Die summary report on the session by logging on to the official web site for the Idaho Legislature at http://www.legislature.idaho.gov.

Dean M. Mortimer

State Representative, District 32