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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

Legislative Alert: Contact House State Affairs Committee to Oppose HB 487 on Bond & Levy Elections

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On Friday, February 16, the House State Affairs Committee will consider AIC-opposed legislation to prohibit cities, school districts and other local governments from re-running a bond or levy election for at least 12 months after a failed attempt.

We ask city officials to contact members of the committee (listed at the bottom of this email) and respectfully ask that they oppose House Bill 487.

AIC joins with the Idaho School Boards Association in opposing House Bill 487.  Local government officials in Idaho oppose the bill for the following reasons.

Mayors, city councilors, and school board trustees are elected to represent their communities and have the community’s best interests at heart.  These local elected officials understand the sacrifices that property taxpayers make to fund vital facilities like schools, police and fire stations, and streets.  Local elected officials understand the impact of these decisions on retirees that are living on fixed incomes.

Preventing bond or levy elections from being run for 12 months after a first failed attempt would hurt communities that currently depend on supplemental levies for school operations funding.  Ensuring that schools have adequate resources to educate kids is everyone’s priority.

City revenue bonds for wastewater projects ensure that communities are complying with water quality regulations, protecting against crippling fines that would be a terrible burden on the community’s utility customers.

We respectfully ask that legislators oppose HB 487.  The members of House State Affairs Committee and their emails are listed below.

Rep. Thomas F. Loertscher, Bone, Chair:  tloertscher@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Jason A. Monks, Nampa, Vice Chair:  jmonks@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Lynn M. Luker, Boise:   lluker@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Brent J. Crane, Nampa:   bcrane@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Joe Palmer, Meridian:  jpalmer@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens:  vbar@house.idaho.gov

Rep. James Holtzclaw, Meridian:  jholtzclaw@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Steven Harris, Meridian:  sharris@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Randy Armstrong, Inkom:  armstrong@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, White Bird:  pgiddings@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Dustin Manwaring, Pocatello:  dmanwaring@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Christy Zito, Hammett:   czito@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Heather Scott, Blanchard:  hscott@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Elaine Smith, Pocatello:  esmith@house.idaho.gov

Rep. Paulette E. Jordan, Plummer:  pjordan@house.idaho.gov

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US Reclamation Title Transfers in Idaho - Process Improvements Under Discussion

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Sunday, February 11, 2018
Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2018

Since 1996, Reclamation has transferred title to thirty (30) projects or parts of projects across the West pursuant to various acts of Congress.  Successful title transfers of Reclamation projects in Idaho since 1998 generally provided mutual benefits to both Reclamation and the non-federal entities involved.

Reclamation has recognized that there were many more entities that might be good candidates to take title, but had not pursued it for various reasons.  In an effort to work with non-federal entities who are interested in pursuing title transfers, Reclamation developed a process in 2004 to facilitate additional title transfers in a consistent and comprehensive way known as the Framework for the Transfer of Title.  In spite of some successes, including those in Idaho, Reclamation and others see that the current process still takes too long and discourages some good candidates from coming forward.

To examine the existing title transfer process and potential benefits to federal and non-federal stakeholders, the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Water and Energy Subcommittee, held a hearing on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

Austin Ewell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science of the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI), testified and provided five suggestions to improve the title transfer process.

  • Congress should authorize the UDOI Secretary, through the Bureau of Reclamation, to administratively transfer titles to projects and facilities based specific established eligibility criteria.
  • The process to develop title transfer agreements under a title transfer program should be open, public, and transparent.
  • There should be the development of categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act that applies to title transfers.
  • Existence of hydropower on a Reclamation project provides additional complexities in the process that need to be addressed legislatively.
  • The Bureau of Reclamation recommends statutory language to ensure Reclamation law continues to control project water regardless of title transfer, especially when only a portion of a project is transferred.
 

As discussed by Paul Arrington with with Idaho Water Users Association during the January hearing, Idaho has a rich history of title transfer involving Reclamation projects. In fact, one of the first Title Transfers of a Reclamation project involved the Burley Irrigation District in Southern Idaho in 1998. Since that time, other successful Idaho Title Transfers include Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District in 2001, Fremont Madison Irrigation District in 2004, and American Falls Reservoir District #2 in 2008.  

Transfer proposals that have been initiated but not yet completed include those with Pioneer Irrigation District and the City of Caldwell.  Other transfers planned for the future include the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District in Lewiston, Idaho and the Minidoka Irrigation District. Minidoka is currently waiting on Reclamation to draft a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the issues to be addressed in a title transfer.

Idaho cities interested in assessing potential benefits of title transfers from Reclamation are encouraged to review the presence and conditions of Reclamation conveyances within their city limits.  

 

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Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop - March 14, 2018

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Sunday, February 11, 2018
Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is offering an Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop for Federal, state, tribal, and local personnel, including corporate and facility security professionals from the private and public sectors, supervisory first responders, human resource managers, law enforcement, community response officials, and homeland security representatives.

This one-day Security Workshop, located in Pullman, Washington, is designed to enhance preparedness through a “whole community” approach.  This approach supports our stakeholders’ efforts to plan, prepare and mitigate risk from a potential active shooter threat by:
 

  • Educating participants on the history of active shooter events;
  • Describing common behavior, conditions, and situations associated with active shooters; and
  • Fostering communication between critical infrastructure owners and operators and local emergency response teams.

This course includes discussions of interoperability, communications protocols, and best practices for planning, preparedness, and response.

For more information and to register for the DHS Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop, Click Here.

Hosted by the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of Infrastructure Protection and the Pullman Police Department, Schweitzer Engineer Laboratories (SEL).

Note: This is not a tactical training course. 

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Cities Asked to Help Identify Low-Income “Opportunity Zones”

Posted By Justin Ruen, Friday, February 9, 2018

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contains new tax incentives for investments in low-income census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Idaho Department of Commerce are calling for cities, counties, and tribes in eligible areas to apply for a Governor’s nomination to participate.

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities. Private investment vehicles that place 90 percent or more of their funds into an Opportunity Zone can earn tax relief on the capital gains generated through those investments. Tax benefits increase the longer investments are in place.

The zones themselves will be designated in U.S. Census tracts that meet the Treasury Department’s qualifications for New Market Income Tax credits. These are U.S. Census tracts where the poverty rate is 20 percent or greater and/or family income is less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.

The governor of each state is permitted to designate 25 percent of its “low income census tracts” as Opportunity Zones subject to approval from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Idaho has 109 low-income census tracts, of which up to 27 may be designated as Opportunity Zones.

Communities in the following counties may qualify for Opportunity Zone nomination: Ada, Adams, Bannock, Benewah, Bingham, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Clark, Clearwater, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lewis, Madison, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Payette, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Valley and Washington.

Cities, counties, and tribes with eligible census tracts should contact the Department of Commerce and apply via the department’s online portal. For more information, to begin the application process and for access to the online portal, please email grants@commerce.idaho.gov

Questions about community eligibility may be directed to Jerry Miller at jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov or 208.287.0780. All applications must be submitted to the online portal no later than 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time on March 2, 2018.

 

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Idaho Dept. of Commerce Schedules Webinars on Opportunity Zones

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, February 8, 2018

An aspect of the recent federal tax relief legislation that has garnered significant interest from local officials is the provision establishing Opportunity Zones, which give preferential capital gains tax status for investments in economically disadvantaged areas.  

The Idaho Department of Commerce has scheduled webinars on Monday, February 12 and Tuesday, February 20 to cover this hot topic and help local officials understand the law.  Topics to be covered include:

  • What are opportunity zones and how do they benefit investors?
  • How can local officials work with the state to identify census tracts eligible for Opportunity Zone status?
  • Walk through the online Opportunity Zone application and nominating tool.
  • Address questions regarding the process.

If you have any questions, please contact Jerry Miller at jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov or 208-287-0780.

If you are unable to attend the live webinar, it will be available on demand at this location:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1grpMgT9xT6zkeWWIrebUrzZ3mNtdqbmX

Links to register for the webinars are provided below.  

February 12, 2018

2:30 – 3:30 MST (1:30 -2:30 PST)

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8778371482405798403

 

February 20, 2018

10:00 -11:00 MST (9:00 -10:00 PST)

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1644943451046658051

 

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2018 AIC Water Summit - Presentations

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, January 26, 2018

The second AIC Water Summit, held in Boise on January 22, 2018, focused on current and emerging water policy issues affecting Idaho cities.  AIC is grateful to our presenters and for the quality engagement by so many of our members!

Please find the presentations here, and look for the summary from our regional break-out sessions in an upcoming post.

Cooperative Federalism: Dave Clark, HDR & Haley Falconer, Boise City

Stormwater Management & Funding: Troy Tymeson, City of Coeur d’Alene

Stormwater Program Planning: Les MacDonald, City of Moscow

Idaho Water Recharge: Brain Patton, Idaho Department of Water Resources

Water Re-Use – Decentralized Non-Potable Re-Use: Tristian Bounds, Orenco Systems

Boise Re-Use Fact Sheet: Kate Harris, Boise City

Meridian Re-Use Fact Sheet: Laurelei McVey, City of Meridian

Moscow Re-Use Fact Sheet: Les MacDonald, City of Moscow

Municipal Water Rights: Chris Bromely & Candice McHugh, McHugh Bromley PLLC, Idaho Water Law Attorneys

Idaho Primacy & Water Quality Update: Mary Anne Nelson & Don Essig, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

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Thanks for Making City Officials' Day at the Capitol a Success!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, January 25, 2018

We extend our appreciation to the over 170 city elected officials and staff who participated in the 2018 City Officials' Day at the Capitol on Tuesday. 

The event kicked off in the morning with remarks from Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives Scott Bedke of Oakley and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder of Boise.  Speaker Bedke confirmed that the Legislature is working hard to fix the error in last session's transportation funding bill for the Strategic Initiatives Program and get that money to local governments as soon as possible.

We also heard from a panel of legislators including Sen. Maryanne Jordan of Boise, Sen. Kelly Anthon of Burley, Rep. Tom Loertscher of Bone, and Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa.  

There were in-depth discussions on important policy areas that the Legislature is expected to address this year, including magistrate court funding and campaign finance.  

We were fortunate to have nearly all of the 105 members of the Legislature in attendance for lunch, where legislators were presented with a copy of the newly released Idaho's 200 Cities books, available now from Ridenbaugh Press.

Thanks again for your help in making City Officials' Day a success!

 Attached Thumbnails:

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House State Affairs Committee Kills Financial Disclosure Bill

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, January 18, 2018

One of the most significant bills of the session was defeated yesterday morning as the House State Affairs Committee voted overwhelmingly to kill a bill sponsored by the committee’s chair—Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona—to require state and local elected officials and candidates to disclose personal financial information.

The legislation would have required candidates for state, legislative, county and city office to file annual reports identifying their primary employer and occupation or job title; all entities they own or for which they are an officer; every entity that has paid them $5,000 or more in income in the past year; each entity in which they own stocks or bonds (not mutual funds) valued at more than $5,000; any boards on which they serve; and their spouse’s name, occupation and employer.  A legislative work group looking at reforms to Idaho’s Sunshine Law unanimously supported the financial disclosure bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Loertscher, told the committee, “Financial disclosure of elected officials is in your future, because this will happen at some point,” possibly through the citizen initiative process if the Legislature fails to act on the issue.  “The point of this legislation and the way this is written is to make this the least intrusive way I can think of for us to accomplish that.”

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, argued that the legislation could allow public officials and their family members to be targeted because of the official’s beliefs.  “To focus on legislator sources of income, spousal sources of income, is to put a target on our back to many groups and individuals nationwide that would work to silence various ideologies, various voices, by attacking the economics.”

It is not clear whether the sponsor will bring back the legislation in a different form, but AIC is monitoring this issue. 

AIC’s perspective is that the current process where elected officials declare their conflicts of interest on the record at a public meeting works well, it does not require a bunch of paperwork, and it is done in a public forum so that members of the governing board and the public are on notice as to the existence and extent of the conflict.  AIC is dedicated to helping local officials understand Idaho’s ethics and conflict of interest laws and provides extensive training covering those areas.

 

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Register Now for the AIC Water Summit (January 22nd)

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, January 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Water shapes economic growth, the environment, and the very social fabric of our communities. Ensuring that all people have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water and wastewater systems is the cornerstone of a sustainable and prosperous Idaho, and nation.

Idaho’s population growth now outpaces Nevada and Utah at 2.2%.  However, while not all regions within Idaho may be experiencing this growth, all regions are grappling with changing weather patterns, new energy supply/efficiency options, growing income inequality, and water quality and quantity pressures that impact Idaho communities. 

Bottom line - each day more and more cities within Idaho are confronting an unsettling fact of life—our supplies of clean, dependable, economical water are more fragile than at any time in our recent history.  

AIC invites you to participate, listen, converse, and weigh in on our current water supply and quality issues. The 2018 Water Summit will focus on current and emerging water policy issues affecting cities including, but not limited to: water rights, water quality, and stormwater.  A key component of the 2018 Summit will be the selection of new regional representatives to serve on the AIC Municipal Water Users Group oversight board.

Register for the 2018 AIC Water Summit by January 17th HERE.

 

More Background & Resources

All people need access to the basics—water, food, shelter—in order to participate fully in society. When these basic conditions are met, our communities and our economy thrive. Water systems that do not deliver clean, affordable water to all people can exacerbate inequality and undermine our State's future prosperity. Communities that face various forms of water stress are vulnerable and frequently held back from full participation in the economy, lowered productivity and competitiveness.  Moreover, as water utilities work to fund the maintenance and operations of their systems, they need financially stable ratepayers.

In the face of these issues, how do we create a new era of water management in Idaho—one that secures economic, environmental, and community well-being?

The 2017 Association of Idaho Cities Municipal Utility Survey identified a number of key challenges with respect to equitable water availability and affordability.  These challenges include:

  • Aging, Inadequate, or Lack of Infrastructure 
  • Affordability
  • Small Ratepayer Base (Fragmentation)
  • Water Quality
  • Trained or Certified Operators

The 2017 Survey demonstrated that water supply and quality challenges vary from place to place.  Additionally, our legal frameworks for water predate modern challenges like bio-accumulative toxins or growing income disparity. 

In light of an increased understanding of the challenges facing Idaho, it is equally important to recognize the cumulative, reinforcing, positive impacts of equitable water management.  A recent report by the US Water Alliance sets forth a framework to advance water equity in America, organized around three pillars where progress is being forged:

  • Ensure all people have access to clean, safe, affordable water service,
  • Maximize the community and economic benefits of water infrastructure investment; and,
  • Foster community resilience in the face of a changing climate.

So, how do we create a new era of water management in Idaho—one that secures economic, environmental, and community well-being?  A series of "listening sessions" held in 2017 with water and wastewater utilities, private companies and environmental groups from across the country resulted in a report titled: "Seven Big Ideas."  These ideas seek to provide practical solutions, focused on policy and decision-making, to positively change how we manage our water resources and infrastructure," the group says.  The seven ideas are:

  1. Advance regional collaboration on water management.
  2. Accelerate agriculture-utility partnerships to improve water quality.
  3. Sustain adequate funding for responsible water infrastructure management.
  4. Blend public and private expertise and investment to address water infrastructure needs.
  5. Redefine affordability for the 21st century.
  6. Reduce lead risks, and embrace the mission of protecting public health.
  7. Accelerate technology adoption to build efficiency and improve water service.

Current AIC efforts include assessing whether Idaho laws and regulations constrain innovative approaches to integrating water policy either horizontally (i.e., across water sectors) or vertically (i.e., alignment with other investments in infrastructure, agriculture, environmental protection, and social equity). 

Keep up on these and other efforts by serving on the Municipal Water Users Group and the Water Re-Use Task Force.

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Register Today for AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol!

Posted By Justin Ruen, Thursday, January 4, 2018

The most valuable opportunity for city officials to discuss issues with members of the Idaho Legislature is coming up in a few weeks at the AIC City Officials’ Day at the Capitol in Boise on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.  There is still time to register via the AIC website: idahocities.org/page/codc

We urge city officials to contact their legislators and ask that they join you for the Legislative Luncheon at Noon at the Boise Centre East Building Room 400A-B.  That provides an opportunity to discuss whether you will meet them at the Capitol or at the luncheon and other logistical matters, helping to ensure a successful lunch.

The day will start promptly at 9:00 a.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium in the Garden Level West Wing of the Idaho Capitol building.  City officials will hear from President Pro Tem of the Idaho Senate Brent Hill of Rexburg and Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives Scott Bedke of Oakley.  Then, a panel of legislators will share their perspectives on the session, and you will also hear updates on magistrate court funding, reforms to Idaho’s Sunshine Law, and other issues.

At 11:30 a.m., the meeting will break to allow city officials to meet their legislators at the entrance to the House and Senate on the third floor of the Capitol.  City officials will then escort their legislators to lunch at the Boise Centre East Building Room 400 A-B (shuttle buses will be running from the capitol to the Boise Centre).

Lunch will be largely unprogrammed with the goal of ensuring city officials and legislators have time for conversation.   

During the afternoon city officials can watch legislative committee meetings in the Garden Level of the Capitol, check out the Capitol and its many informative historical exhibits, or schedule meetings with legislators or state agency staff.

We look forward to seeing you on January 23 at City Officials’ Day at the Capitol!

 

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