As reported on the Idaho Statesman's legislative blog, the Senate Democratic Caucus today proposed five pieces of legislation that would be priorities for the 2009 Legislature if Democrats (now just seven of 35 lawmakers) ran the show:
• Fair Elections Act: The bill would allow voluntary public funding in legislative elections as is the case in Arizona and Maine. The Democrats claim elected officials "would be holden to no one" and it would open the process for individuals of lower economic means to run for office. The bill would add a fee to court filings and fines to generate money for publicly financed elections and potential candidates would have to meet certain thresholds to qualify.
• Major energy facility siting: The bill calls for more deliberate planning of major energy facilities, such as coal and nuclear.
• Move homeowners' exemption to $150,000
• Sunset sales tax exemptions so that they can be reviewed by the Legislature: The Democrats said that tax exemptions are not reviewed by the Legislature after they are approved to find out if they are serving their purpose of "enhancing the economy." "Every exemption should be up for review," Elliot Werk said, adding that it did not mean the exemptions should be taken away, only that they should be reviewed.
• Prohibiting campaign contributions to legislators while in session: Because the state's "bribery laws are toothless," Kate Kelly said, she is proposing a bill that would prohibit legislators from taking campaign contributions from registered lobbyists while in session.
Read more here.