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Eye On Boise

Thu., April 21, 2011, 4:28 p.m.

Otter allows school-funding floor bill, HB 315, to become law without his signature

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has allowed HB 315, legislation from Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, regarding school funding and teacher contracts, to become law without his signature. There's no word yet on why the governor took that stance, which signals he had a problem with the bill but still opted to let it take effect. Roberts' bill, which you can read here, provides a one-year partial phase-out of the current state funding provision that protects school districts that see sharp drops in student enrollment from one year to the next from correspondingly sharp swings in their state funding; until now, those districts were eligible for 99 percent of their state funding the year before as a "floor." Under HB 315, next year they'd be eligible for 97 percent, and after that, there'd be no more funding "floor" protection.

The bill also eliminates a provision of SB 1108, one of state schools Supt. Tom Luna's school reform bills, that would have ordered 10 percent severance payments to teachers laid off in the fall as a result of enrollment drops. SB 1108 is the same bill that eliminated the 99 percent funding floor.

So far this year, Otter has signed 332 bills into law, vetoed one, and allowed three others to become law without his signature. The earlier ones were HB 17, a measure from the Idaho Transportation Department to have Idaho comply with federal rules on reporting of medical conditions by holders of commercial drivers licenses - if Idaho didn't comply, it stood to lose a big chunk of its federal highway funds; HB 144, restoring the slice of the state's fuel tax distribution that helps fund the Idaho State Police and state parks trails programs - Otter had sought to shift those costs two years ago as part of his bid to increase highway funding; and SB 1071a, providing for the display of the POW/MIA flag; Otter said he wanted broader rules allowing for more display of the flag, something he'll propose next year.

The one bill Otter vetoed: HB 298, the final version of the "nullification" bill on national health care reform; he replaced it with an executive order with some of the same provisions; you can read that here.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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