BOISE -- It should be a busy week in the Idaho Legislature. Guns, schools, and taxes are just some of the items on the docket.
Representative Judy Boyle says at least two bills meant to bolster gun rights will be introduced Monday. Boyle says one measure would strengthen Idaho law enforcement agencies' ability to resist possible gun grabs by the federal government. Another would create a new category of concealed weapon permit requiring more training. Boyle says, that could convince more schools to allow guns on their campuses.
"2nd amendment rights are so highly valued in Idaho, I suspect that there will be new legislation passed," said KTVB Political Expert Dr. Jim Weatherby. "But we will see, when we're now talking about the possibility of taking guns into schools."
Also this week at the Statehouse, we could see legislation on repeal of the personal property tax on business. We saw a rough draft from the Governor last week. Weatherby says this looks like something a conservative legislature would pass easily. But, the business tax cut could also mean less funding for cities, counties, schools, and others. That could put legislators in a tough spot.
"So, on the surface it seems like an easy thing to do, in terms of this very conservative legislature supporting tax cuts," said Weatherby. "But in this case, it's affecting their own local districts."
Education continues to be a big issue, especially now that the Idaho School Boards Association introduced seven bills that revive parts of the Students Come First Education Reform Laws, specifically relating to teacher contracts. Weatherby says it's hard to say if lawmakers will pass this new legislation, considering the Students Come First laws were defeated by a vote of the people just a few months ago. "I think legislators are treading very lightly here."
Weatherby also says there will be interesting debate over a bill from the Idaho Farm Bureau aimed at making it tough to get initiatives on the Idaho ballot, requiring more signatures. He says it's all in response to fears about the National Humane Society possibly introducing initiatives for tougher animal cruelty laws.
Also at the Statehouse on Monday, state employees and teachers are planning to protest for higher wages.
They are hoping to make their voices heard after Governor Otter's budget plan was adopted by budget writers. Otter's plan does not give raises to government workers next year. It's possible that if budget writers hear from enough state workers, they could add raises. The so-called "listening session" is scheduled from 4pm to 6pm Monday, in the East Wing Room at the statehouse.