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Chamber officials hear legislative report

April 25, 2012

With a 40 percent turnover expected because of numerous retirements, it's likely the 2013 Idaho Legislative will become more conservative.
That could point to a major effort by its members to eliminate urban renewal districts, noted Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking to a group of members of the Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce, LaBeau said his organization will vigorously oppose that effort.
"Urban renewal districts are one of the few tools that communities have to bring in companies," LaBeau said. "When it's done correctly, it's a very successful program."
Blackfoot has benefitted from urban renewal districts to bring in Premier Technology, Wal-Mart and to bring Jensen Grove to its current condition.
LaBeau said that, in his view as spokesman for IACI, one of the biggest failures of the 2012 Legislature was its failure to create a health care exchange.
"An exchange provides small employers an opportunity to have menu systems (in purchasing insurance coverages)," he said.
The legislators rejected the attempt to create an exchange in large part because there's one mandated in the federal health care law, derisively known as Obamacare.
"Regardless of what the Supreme Court does (regarding the mandate which requires each person to have insurance), the state of Idaho is going to have to react," LaBeau said. "We feel the exchange is the right way to go. What we're arguing over is how to pay for it."
The federal mandate goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013. So, if the Court upholds the individual mandate portion of Obamacare, the governor will likely be forced to call a special session of the legislature to create an exchange or have a federal one forced upon it.
LaBeau also touched on what the legislature did regarding education and state infrastructure.
"We need to have an education system that is more cohesive than we now have," he said. He called for a K-20 mindset rather than the current system which calls for focusing on students in kindergarten through high school.
Regarding infrastructure he noted that a video franchising law the legislature passed requires broadband providers to pay one fee to the state rather than multiple fees to the communities in which they provide service.
LaBeau said his organization has a diverse membership throughout the state. It is focused on working on issues of broad interest to the business community.

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