Session preview: Off to the races | Northwest |

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Sunny and windy. 51F high. Wind WSW at 20 to 30 miles per hour. Occasionally, wind gusts may exceed 40 mph.

Partly cloudy. As low as 30F. The speed is 5 to 10 mph.

Hold your hat tight today, because the winds in north-central Idaho and eastern Washington are expected to be gusty, even reaching 75 mph on Camas Prairie.

Moscow-In the eyes of Post Falls coach Mike McLean, a sequence of tightening time makes all the difference.

Last Wednesday, Representative Russ Fulcher of Idaho:

In this March 2020 photo, the evening sun shines on the Idaho State Capitol on the statue of Frank Steinberg in Cecil Andrews Park in Boise. The 2021 legislative session will start on Monday.

Senator Dan Johnson of R-Lewiston takes his seat after speaking to the Idaho Senate on March 4, 2020.

The Idaho House of Representatives meets on March 3, 2020, file photo. The 2021 conference will start on Monday.

Representative Aaron von Ehlinger of R-Lewiston addressed hundreds of Trump supporters on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol on Wednesday. This rally was held to protest the results of the presidential election, which is consistent with a larger rally held in the US Capitol.

In March 2020, people walked around in the rotunda inside the Idaho State Capitol. The 2021 legislative session begins on Monday.

The legislative construction showed that the fog partially shrouded in the Capitol Olympia on Thursday, and the supporters of President Donald Trump protested in Olympia the next day after the vote count in Washington, DC, and confirmed the victory of President-elect Biden. The 2021 meeting of the Washington legislature is scheduled to open there on Monday.

After law enforcement officers stood by and watched, a group of protesters vandalized the surrounding walls and approached the governor's residence on Wednesday at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington. They protested against the count of votes in Washington, DC, affirming the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

What is the difference between the borders.

When Idaho and Washington hold their 2021 legislative sessions on Monday, lawmakers in these two states will face a series of common challenges, from budgets and taxes to healthcare and other pandemic-related needs.

However, the similarities end here.

To the east of the border, the overwhelming majority of the Republican Party in Idaho has announced its intention to withdraw the governor’s emergency powers and "review" (ie, restrict) local authorities' public health requirements.

Legislators will also debate various tax cuts, and it is very likely that there will be as little attention to the coronavirus pandemic as possible.

West of the border, the more divided Washington state legislature will consider Governor Jay Inslee's call for more than $1.15 billion in new taxes, as well as a long list of climate change and equity initiatives.

The Democratic majority party did not ignore the epidemic, but suggested comprehensive reforms to combat the spread of the virus, including remote voting and restricting public access to the Olympia State Capitol.

Every year there are surprises and "unexpected" controversies, but before entering the 2021 conference, the following are some of the main issues that Idaho and Washington lawmakers will consider:

Legislators in both countries can change their procedures at any time based on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, at this point, Idaho lawmakers seem to want this meeting to be as close to a normal meeting as possible. Masks are recommended, but not required. Some adjustments have been made to the seating arrangements and the capacity of the committee meeting room has been limited, but public testimony is still possible in person. Online testimony will be approved by the chairman of the committee.

Governor Brad Little has no say in the rules of legislation. However, he told the Idaho Education News Agency that he would not deliver his State of the Union address from the overcrowded House of Representatives as traditionally done on Monday. Instead, he will be held in the State Capitol Auditorium, and the speech will be broadcast to the Senate and Senate members, as well as to the public online.

In contrast, Olympia’s Democratic leaders paid more attention to remote participation throughout the conference. With the approval of the House of Representatives and the Senate, public access to the State Capitol will be restricted. Journalists are tax-exempt, but lobbyists are not. Most employees will also work remotely. The committees will collect evidence via telephone and online, subject to approval by each chairperson. Voting will be a mixed approach, with some members present in the House of Representatives or Senate seats, while others will participate online or by phone.

Senator Mark Schoesler of R-Ritzville said: "This is an attack on open government." "The fact that (the State Capitol) campus does not allow public access makes it easier to hide what is going on."

Scholesler said that due to the lack of adequate broadband services in many rural areas of the state, no matter what procedures are adopted, about half of the Senate Republicans will remain in Olympia.

Taking into account all public health considerations this year, legislators can do the minimum and do it every day instead of pursuing a radical agenda for major policy changes.

Scholesler said: "I think this is the result many people (Washington) want because they will be excluded from this process."

He believes that the legislature should pass a budget to resolve any key policy issues caused by the pandemic, and then go home.

He said: "But this is not for the governor's office." "He proposed a very broad and radical agenda."

When Inslee released the 2021-23 budget proposal in December, he used different wording to describe it, calling it "a historical commitment to diversity, fairness, and inclusiveness."

However, he acknowledged that the $57.85 billion spending plan is ambitious.

He said: "We are (committed to) investing to help all communities in Washington flourish, especially the colored communities that have been marginalized for too long." "These recommendations are an important step in the right direction, but we acknowledge A lot of work is needed to correct decades of inequality."

In contrast, almost no one said that despite the possibility of a record surplus in the 2021 fiscal year, which ends on June 30, he will take a "cautious" approach in this year's budget.

Most of the current surplus is expected to be about $600 million, which is double the continuing income. For example, nearly $250 million comes from the governor’s budget freeze on all state agencies (including public schools) before the start of the fiscal year. Another $60 million came from last year’s cost that was lower than Medicaid.

Nevertheless, Little also hinted at his possible tax cuts and transportation financing plans in the fiscal year 2022 budget, which may keep lawmakers in the city while trying to reach a consensus.

Republican leaders are at least open to the idea of ​​shrinking meetings, but said it will depend on the virus.

"We still have the same responsibilities as last year. We just need to find a way," said Speaker of the House of Representatives Scott Bedeck (R-Oakley). "Unless there are drastic changes, I don't think (the meeting) will enter April."

During the special three-day meeting in Idaho in August, Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate expressed dissatisfaction with the executive branch actions taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Of particular concern is whether the governor has the ability to approve rolling emergency declarations and spend more than $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds without legislative input or supervision.

Rep. Caroline Troy of R-Genesee said: "I think the governor has done a good job in dealing with these unprecedented times." "But I was frustrated from the beginning: $1.25 billion is the legislature's responsibility for the budget. You It is inevitable to formulate policies when distributing funds, so I will support legislation that reasonably restricts the authority (the governor does this)."

During the special session, the House of Representatives approved legislation to immediately end the coronavirus emergency declaration. For constitutional considerations, the Senate refused to consider the bill, but passed a resolution of its own, highlighting several items to be dealt with during the 2021 session.

These topics include: amending the Idaho Constitution to allow the legislature to reconvene meetings "under limited circumstances"; revoking current emergency orders; restricting the executive's emergency power and spending authority; and prohibiting the isolation of healthy individuals.

Senator Dan Johnson of R-Lewiston said: "We are committed to doing certain things." "I hope to prioritize these legislations during the meeting."

Representative Mary Dye of R-Pomeroy said she hopes that the Washington legislature will consider similar actions to protect the separation of powers.

Day said: "I hope that our legislation will tighten our emergency regulations and will never allow this pandemic imbalance between the executive branch and the legislative branch." "I think this imbalance shows ownership. Power will be intoxicating."

Scholesler resigned as leader of the Republican Party in the Senate this year. He said that his core team is as interested in resolving the imbalance of executive legislation as Day. However, he does not believe that this is not a priority for Democrats who have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

He said: "I think they are considering aggressive taxation in the name of climate change, and they are setting their sights on employment, economics and education."

Inslee's 2021-23 budget includes several pandemic-related items, including an additional $100 million in coronavirus relief grants to small businesses in the state, and $100 million in rental assistance for landlords and tenants.

He said: "We hope that this will happen a few days before the 2021 conference."

Not surprisingly, at least in recent years, taxation has been one of the biggest differences between the legislatures of Idaho and Washington.

For example, the state of Idaho has approved approximately $130 million in income tax relief since 2018. The business tax income from online purchases has also been transferred from the general fund to the special tax reduction fund.

In the past 18 months, the fund has raised more than $100 million. After failing to reach a consensus on a tax cut plan at the last session, legislators were forced to return money to voters this year.

In addition to debating the best use of tax cut funds, Idaho lawmakers will also consider various methods to reduce or exempt property taxes. Democrats continue to push for increases or adjustments to homeowners’ tax allowances and circuit breakers, while Republicans on the Interim Property Tax and Income and Expenditure Committee support efforts to limit local government budgets that promote property tax increases. They will also propose legislation to increase transparency to understand how to use the money of these local taxpayers.

In contrast, Washington lawmakers approved more than $550 million in new taxes in 2020 alone. By 2029, this will increase to nearly $1.2 billion per year, and Inslee proposes to increase revenue by another $1.7 billion this year, including a 9% capital gains tax.

Inslee said in December: "We know we are in a pandemic, we just need to provide relief to our families." "Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to increase some kind of income. Obviously, if you want to increase it, then it Should not be the poorest of us."

In addition to increasing taxes on the general fund, Washington legislators also need to solve the problem that employer unemployment insurance rates may double this year.

Scholesler warned in an interview in December: "This is an increase of $1 billion in taxes." "That was before the Democrats even started to increase new taxes."

The higher incidence rate stems from massive layoffs during the coronavirus shutdown. The unemployment rate in Washington rose from 3.8% in February (the lowest level since January 1976) to 16.3% in April, the highest level during the same period.

Since then, employment has rebounded, but the state has distributed more than $4 billion in unemployment benefits, almost depleting its unemployment trust fund. Employer rates are also based on the amount of benefits paid to laid-off workers in the past four years.

Therefore, the Department of Employment Security in Washington estimates that this tax rate may increase from an average of approximately $317 per employee last year to $636 this year.

"My understanding is that they need to announce the new interest rate sometime in January," Scholesler said.

Insley is working with Democrats to resolve this issue, but his plan will only reduce the projected growth by 38%.

In Idaho, Governor Little used $200 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to support the state's unemployment trust fund, thereby reducing concerns about the fund's exhaustion.

One issue that Idaho state legislators will focus on at this session is the growing proportion of Medicaid in the state and the increase in Medicaid costs.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare recently proposed a series of cost-saving measures aimed at saving approximately $30 million in fiscal year 2022. This is about one-third of the expected increase, which is due to the increase in the number of Medicaid, the combined reasons for the increase in the utilization rate of Medicaid services and mandatory price increases.

Cost-saving measures require legislative approval, which may include things like cut benefits, lower provider tax rates, and higher tax assessments for nursing homes and intermediate care institutions.

Speaker Bedek said at the Legislative Council meeting in November: "I think all legislators must keep a clear head on this issue and these numbers."

Controversial topics usually cause strong repercussions, but in the legislative meetings of Idaho and Washington, public participation has always been respectful and polite, sometimes even more welcome than the legislators themselves.

However, given the recent increase in political tensions and the pro-Trump vision in Congress last week, it is unclear whether this will happen this year.

The disruptive behavior shown during the special meeting in Idaho last August may provide a preview. Disgruntled “anti-maskers” and anti-vaccine advocates screamed into the House gallery, broke windows, ignored social distancing guidance, and postponed at least one committee hearing by screaming and shouting.

Similarly, according to reports, the three central areas of Washington state claim to be "God-fearing patriots who support our Constitution." The state called on its members this week to "occupy" Olympia’s legislative building to protest any ban on public access. .

Legislators in Idaho and Washington will raise a general question at the meeting on Monday, whether the 2021 meeting will return to etiquette or continue to divide and dispute.

Starting at noon Pacific time, he will deliver the 2021 state state speech on Monday.

To pay tribute to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Little stated that he would avoid overcrowding in the Senate and House of Representatives and instead deliver a speech in the State Assembly Auditorium. It will be broadcast live online. access

And click on the "Live Audio and Video Streaming" tab on the right to find the link to the voice.


The website also has links to the 2021 legislative session, where people can find bill information, daily agendas, and links to live broadcasts of committees and Senate and Senate meetings.

Starting at noon Pacific time, he will deliver his 2021 inauguration speech and state report on Wednesday. Unlike the past few years, speeches will be pre-recorded and include stories from voters.

It will stream online to

For information about the 2021 meeting, including links to the bill, committee agenda and speaking schedule, please visit the following website:

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