February 24, 2012

We have now completed our seventh week of the session. This has been a busy week and I’m sure that business matters will continue to keep us, here at the Capitol Building, busy through adjournment Sine Die.
The Legislature is now in the final stages of fulfilling its constitutional duty to balance the budget while also creating policies that lay the foundation of prosperity for Idaho. The Legislature’s budget committee has begun setting budgets for all state agencies this week. Traditionally, the beginning of this process indicates the Legislative Session is over halfway complete. Last Friday, the budget committee adopted a general target from the Joint Economic Outlook Committee for the next fiscal year’s budget of $2.667 billion- a 4.5 % increase from this year. This figure is $33.3 million below Governor Otter’s budget recommendation at the beginning of the session. With this target set, the Legislature’s budget committee is now deciding on many budget priorities, based on the Governor’s recommendations. TRANSPORTATION
This week, the Senate Transportation Committee voted to print a bill to expand the use of GARVEE funds to include the repair and construction of bridges. This bill does not authorize any funding and a program still has be developed in advance and approved by the legislature for appropriation and use of funds so nothing will likely happen this year.
On Tuesday March 6th, every county in the state will hold a county-level caucus as part of the Idaho Republican Presidential Nomination Caucus. The voting will be conducted by secret ballot and takes place in successive rounds. In each round, the recipient of the least amount of votes is eliminated. Voting ends in either of two circumstances: 1) one candidate receives a simple majority of at least 50% of the vote; or 2) only two final candidates remain on the ballot and the final vote is taken. All registered Republican voters in the county are eligible to vote in the County Caucuses. All voters must re-register to vote and declare party affiliation under the new nominating caucus system. Voters may also re-register to vote and declare an party affiliation as they enter the Caucus site. The Ada County Caucus will take place at Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University. Doors open at 4pm, and the voting will begin at 7pm. For more information, please contact Dawn Hatch at (208) 376-7662 or visit www.adacountyrepublicans.com. I appreciate hearing from you all regarding your concerns for Idaho’s laws and proposed legislation. Please continue to contact me at http://www.CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov, www.ChuckWinder.com, 208-332-1307, and find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Senator Chuck Winder
Assistant Majority Leader