Lawmakers discuss health care, grocery tax

Lawmakers address health care and grocery tax.

BOISE - Lawmakers had their hands full on Thursday and they made some big decisions on some contentious bills, one being a health care bill.

"Over the course of four years, two task forces have recommended Medicaid expansion as a method for addressing the folks in the insurance gap," said Sen. Maryanne Jordan of Boise.

Sen. Jordan introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1142 that would expand Medicaid to those who are not otherwise eligible for any other coverage under the state plan.

"The negative to that is we don't know if were going to even get that funding at all," said Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian. "We don't know what the changes at the federal level are going to be and because we can't predict that we don't want to count on that."

Sen. Hagedorn says taking care of the gap population should be done with state, not federal dollars. He proposed an amendment to the bill that would dip into the Millennium fund for $10 million to begin covering the health care gap.

"This amendment focuses on preventive care, on care services, as well as the chronically ill," said Hagedorn.

The amendment to expand Medicaid failed, and the amendment to use the Millennium fund passed. Next, the bill will be heard on the Senate floor.

Sen. Bert Brackett of Twin Falls had two bills on the agenda focused on funding transportation projects.

"There's always more projects than there is money," said Sen. Brackett.

Senate Bill 1162 passed. It approves Garvee bonding that will provide up to $300 million to finance highway projects. 

"I think it's safe to say that a high priority will be the interstate between Franklin and Karcher," said Sen. Brackett. "If you drive from Nampa to Boise it's really good news."

The larger $500 million transportation funding bill was defeated in committee. That bill was an expanded version of the one that passed with additional funding sources. 

A $51 million income tax cut plan from the House was met with a push for several changes.

Lawmakers repealed and rewrote the bill to remove the state's current grocery tax rather than reduce Idaho's top income and corporate tax rates.

Sen. Cliff Bayer of Meridian says repealing the grocery tax will give the biggest tax relief to the most people. The amendment also removes the grocery tax credit, which would help offset the burden of paying taxes on food.

The House must now re-approve the newly amended proposal. 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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