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Tuesday, April 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Eye on Boise: Idaho lawmakers go hog wild in aim to eliminate outdated laws

By Betsy Russell Idaho Press

Under current Idaho law, anyone who “takes up” a trespassing hog must write out three notices “in a plain, legible hand” and post them in three conspicuous places.

Furthermore, when hogs are “running at large within towns,” it’s the duty of “any constable or peace officer” to “take up and impound” all those hogs.

Under Idaho Senate Bill 1286, that 1880s-era law would go away. It’s part of a push from Gov. Brad Little that includes repealing more than 30 outdated sections of Idaho Code this year.

“We had gone through a major spring cleaning of our regulations,” said Alex Adams, Little’s budget chief. “He said, ‘Statutes could use a pretty good scrub, too.’”

That’s why the state Division of Financial Management is sponsoring the hogs-at-large bill this year, and others, too. Other agencies have proposed bills to eliminate laws on licensing professions that no longer exist, or never did; regulating programs that were phased out decades ago; establishing boards and commissions that no longer meet; and even designating wagon roads in specific Idaho towns, some no longer existent.

“He challenged his administration with starting that process,” Adams said. “It scratches the surface, but by no means is a comprehensive review.”

“It’s going to be a multi-year effort,” Adams said.

The move follows the Little administration’s push over the past year to eliminate or streamline much of the state’s administrative code of regulations, which stretches for thousands of pages.

“I think the point the governor’s trying to emphasize is the process we used for rules was healthy,” Adams said. He compared outdated rules and laws to a drawer filled with old computer cords, kept “just to be safe.”

There’s some pretty deep research involved in doing away with some of the very old laws, to make sure nothing about them actually laid the groundwork for subsequent, current laws that still are needed.

SB 1286 eliminates five sections of Idaho Code’s Title 25, Chapter 21, but leaves others in place, including the section that immediately precedes those targeted for elimination. Section 25-2101, entitled “HOGS NEED NOT BE FENCED AGAINST,” will still say, “The owner or occupant of premises is not required to fence against hogs.”

So we can all rest easy that that’s still the case.

2% for state workers

In a series of mostly unanimous votes last week, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee made the statewide budgeting decisions that will form the basis for every agency budget they set this year, a process that started Friday and is set to run through March 6. Unanimously, JFAC agreed to adopt the Joint Change in Employee Compensation (CEC) Committee’s recommendations for state employee pay for next year, for merit raises averaging 2%. That comes to a total cost of $13.9 million to the state general fund; it’s down from the 3% the state has approved for the past few years.

JFAC also included the CEC Committee’s recommendation for a 3% upward shift in the compensation schedule, which has a fiscal impact of just $86,700 to move up those workers who are currently at the bottom of the salary range for their positions; and the recommendation to grant an additional 2% to 20 job classifications most in need of equity adjustments, at a cost of $757,700.

JFAC also approved a 2% base salary increase for classified staff and administrators in public schools, those school employees who aren’t on the teacher career ladder.

They approved $83.8 million in non-discretionary adjustments in various budgets, which are funding increases already required by law due to growth in students, caseload, utilization, and federal match rate adjustments in public schools, higher education, Health & Welfare and Medicaid.

And the joint committee voted to adopt the recommendation of the Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee to set the general fund revenue projection at $4.1255 billion for next year for purposes of budgeting, which is 4.2% over the current year’s forecast and just a tiny fraction of a percentage point off from the governor’s recommendation.

On a 17-1 vote, with Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, dissenting, JFAC voted to approve the governor’s one-time budget recission of 1% in the current budget year, fiscal year 2020. That comes to $19.1 million cut from the state general fund.

The joint committee also voted unanimously to incorporate about $3.7 million in savings to the general fund next year from a sick leave rate reduction to zero; this refers to a program in which state retirees can use up to 600 hours of their accrued sick leave toward health insurance costs in retirement. The money is sent by state agencies into a fund managed by PERSI; Rep. Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot, discovered in September that the fund had grown well beyond its needs, and the state can reduce its contributions from 0.65% of covered employees’ salaries to zero and still have more than enough to cover its obligations for the next year. Gov. Little also built those savings into his proposed budget.

New employee hotline

The state Division of Human Resources budget was among the first set by the joint committee on Friday; it includes $79,200 and one new full-time position to operate a new employee complaint hotline, as proposed Little. State employees will be able to call the hotline to report waste, fraud, abuse, or other personnel issues.

The move comes after the state had to settle a whistleblower lawsuit for $545,000 after the state Department of Labor retaliated against and fired an employee for sending anonymous emails complaining about employees of the department skirting purchasing rules.

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