That’s a wrap: Otter signs school labor bill

It was the last bill debated in the Idaho Legislature.

And it was the last bill signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter.

Otter on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 1040 — which would allow school districts to cut teacher salaries or eliminate teacher contract days.

Central Idaho’s Mackay School District became a focal point in the debate over this bill. Superintendent Karen Pyron testified in favor of the bill at the Statehouse, saying it was needed to help her district cut $150,000 in expenses. Mackay teachers volunteered to take a 5 percent pay cut in order to protect the district’s 16 positions.

On April 4, the Legislature’s last day, the House approved the bill after heated debate. Proponents called it a matter of local control, and said the financial problems facing Mackay were not unique to the district. Opponents labeled the bill as one more attempt to reinstate pieces of the defeated Proposition 1 collective bargaining law.

SB 1040 was one of several laws passed this session that has its origins in Proposition 1. A legislative interim committee is expected to review labor issues, among other education topics.

On Tuesday, Otter cleared his inbox of legislation from the 2013 session. In addition to signing SB 1040, he let Senate Bill 1072 become law without his signature; this law creates a state organ donation contribution fund.