Statehouse roundup, 4.4.19: Supplemental levies; legislative endgame

A bill designed to allow school district patrons to extend supplemental levies appears dead for the year.

Sen. Dean Mortimer

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, pulled Senate Bill 1061aa off the floor Thursday. Mortimer said he had concerns with two amendments the House tacked onto the bill. Mortimer pulled the bill back to committee and told Idaho Education News he does not expect to take any further action this year.

The bill would have applied to school districts that have had voter-approved supplemental levies on the books for at least seven consecutive years. Under those circumstances, voters would have been able to extend the levy for three to 10 years. Currently, schools must run levies every year or two.

Officials with the Basin School District in Idaho City pushed for the bill.

Mortimer supported the bill originally, but questioned two House amendments.

One amendment would have triggered an election to reauthorize the levy if the levy rate increased by more than 3 percent after the first two years.

A second amendment dealt with situations where patrons would leave one school district to be annexed by another district.

Mortimer said the second amendment “wasn’t germane” to the original bill, and said “there was real concern” in the Senate about that change.

“Having that as amended, and with regard to the lateness of the session, it was decided the legislation would be pulled back to committee,” Mortimer said.

The House passed the bill unanimously Tuesday after tacking on amendments.

Legislative endgame

Thursday, the 88th day of the 2019 legislative session, was a slow one for education issues.

The House and Senate spent much of the day either in closed-door caucus meetings or debating changes to a Medicaid work requirements bill on the House floor.

Only a handful of unresolved education issues linger as legislators work to the adjourn the session, possibly next week.

The rewritten 2019-20 State Board of Education budget bill is sitting atop the House’s third reading calendar awaiting a vote.

Additionally, Senate Concurrent Resolution 111 is on the House’s third reading calendar, also awaiting a vote. If approved, SCR 111 would create a new legislative interim committee to study the state’s methodology for funding public school construction and maintenance.

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