Brothers and Sisters,
I reported in my last update that our presumptive illness bill was going to be amended and that this would only delay it by a day or so. We were actually on the reading calendar to be debated on the Senate floor on Tuesday (i.e. no delay), but they held off because our sponsors were not quite ready. We were up again on Wednesday, but our main sponsor, Curt McKenzie, had a court appearance that he could not miss and therefore was not in attendance to present the bill. We could have gone Thursday, but a key supporter was out of town that we felt we needed to be present to assist with the floor debate. He is not back until tomorrow (Monday), so that is when the bill will be debated.
In speaking with the sponsors, they felt like waiting was the right thing to do so that we had the best chance of getting past the Senate. There should still be enough time to get through the House but we can’t afford too many delays on that side.
We’ve spoken to every Senator about this bill and have a decent head count of our votes. We feel good about the numbers but there were enough uncommitted that I worry about the outcome. A lot will depend on the floor debate and how vigorously our opponents argue against the legislation. We have two very good sponsors in Senator McKenzie and Senator Toryanski who should do a fine job articulating our arguments. At this point there is not much left to do but cross our fingers and trust that they will prevail on our behalf.
Regarding other legislative issues –
Collective bargaining is still sitting in a drawer where it will not be heard this session. I think we can breathe a collective sigh of relief for now, but realize that it will probably be something that we need to fight off for the foreseeable future.
There have been several minor bills regarding PERSI (mostly housekeeping legislation), but none that impact the system or benefit structure at all. Again, we can breathe easy for now, but we’ll be fighting this battle in the years to come.
There are several bills that could impact fire district and fire department revenues. The Idaho Fire Chiefs’ Association and the Idaho State Fire Commissioners Association are following these closely to see what kind of impact they could have. We will follow these also.
The texting while driving bill had an exemption for emergency responders, but we supported the change to remove that exemption. That change was made and the bill is on the House 3rd reading calendar.
Please contact me with any questions or comments.
Professional Firefighters of Idaho
Executive Vice President