Under the Golden Dome: Tax Breaks, Backfills, & Prescription Monitoring 3/2/2018

Mar 2, 2018

Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed Jerry Foxhoven as the director of the Department of Human Resources in June.  All of the governor's appointments must be confirmed by the Senate.  These appointments first must pass a Senate committee, and when Foxhoven's appointment came up for a vote all Democrats voted against.  It passed the committee, but to be confirmed Foxhoven must be voted by two-thirds of the full Senate body.  They'll probably vote sometime in April. 

Most of the governor's appointments are approved, but last year enough Democrats united against two appointees.  During the vote, the action enraged Sen. Randy Feenstra and he berated Democrats for being intolerant.

This week, Sen. Feenstra had more heated words about Democrats as they opposed his new tax plan. It's estimated to reduce tax collections by $1 billion annually.  The house is writing a tax plan based on Gov. Reynolds' proposal. Unlike the Senate version, it reduces taxes over longer period of time. House leaders expect to debate by mid-March.

In 2013 a law was passed changing how commercial property is assessed. It resulted in cities and counties receiving fewer tax payments.  The state stepped in by sending them payment often called "backfill" to counter the tax revenue loss. 

There was never date set for backfill payments to expire, but a bill before a Senate subcommittee gets feedback from city and county leaders about stopping these payments.  The proposal would reduce payments by one third for fiscal year 2019, but cities have already locked in their budgets.  They testify during the subcommittee they would prefer to see this implemented with more notice.

The word bipartisan is often thrown around, but at what threshold of both parties working together defines when it's time to use this word?  One time its defiantly appropriate is when a bill passes in the House unopposed. This happened this week in House for a bill that will monitor prescriptions closer.  It's an effort to reduce opioid drug abuse.