This week the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) began work to set budgets for Fiscal Year 2020. While the governor requested an 8 percent increase in revenue for the state budget, the Economic Outlook Committee had requested a 5.7 percent increase. JFAC voted for a 7 percent increase. At that 7 percent, JFAC will be able to fund programs such as Medicaid Expansion and the governor's Literacy Proficiency program.
Public safety was also a big topic! This week Governor Little signed HB 12 into law, making the opioid-overdose drug available from any licensed or registered health care professionals in the event of an overdose. This new law will save thousands of lives. The Idaho Senate also overwhelmingly passed SB 1028 this week to extend workers' compensation coverage to first responders who suffer from traumatic and serious work-related psychological injuries.
And the senate also worked on legislation regarding Idaho’s liquor licenses that would apply only to sit-down or hotel restaurants. Senator Michelle Stennett has been watching this bill closely in the State Affairs Committee. SB 1040 would get rid of the state's current quota system for issuing liquor licenses based on population and instead delegates power to local cities and governments to issue licenses that could be distributed anywhere in the state. The current system either forces entrepreneurs to wait years for a $750 state-issued liquor license or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a license on the secondary market. Right now, the bill is being held in committee to make some improvements. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Rice (R-Caldwell), plans to add amendments and bring it back to committee next week. Thanks to Michelle Stennett for keeping us in the loop this week on these important developments!