IDAHO SECRETARY OF STATE
Elections, Campaign Disclosure and Lobbyists

Ben Ysursa, Secretary of State

2010 GENERAL ELECTION PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Amendment Number and Question

 

Legislative Council's

S.J.R. 101

"Shall Section 10, Article IX, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended to permit the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho to impose rates of tuition and fees on all students enrolled in the University of Idaho as authorized by law?".

 

Meaning, Purpose and Result to be Accomplished

This proposed amendment will clarify that the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho may charge students tuition, as authorized by law.  Currently, the University of Idaho charges student fees to undergraduate students, but not tuition.  Student fees cannot be used to pay for classroom instruction.  All of the other state-supported colleges and universities in Idaho have the authority to charge tuition, and this amendment specifies that the University of Idaho will have the same authority.

 Statements FOR the Proposed Amendment

  1. Currently the University of Idaho can charge student fees, but those fees cannot be used to help pay for the cost of classroom instruction. This amendment will allow the University of Idaho to charge tuition, which can be used to pay for classroom instruction, a practice that is allowed at all other state-supported Idaho colleges and universities.
  2. This amendment will not establish any rates of tuition or fees. The authority for determining rates of tuition and fees will continue to rest with the State Board of Education, sitting as the Board of Regents of the University of Idaho.
  3. This amendment allows all Idaho’s higher education state-supported institutions the uniform authority to charge tuition.

Statements AGAINST the Proposed Amendment

  1. The University of Idaho is Idaho’s land-grant university and predates statehood. The framers of the Constitution envisioned a free education for University of Idaho undergraduate students, and that historic precedent should not be changed.
  2. Rather than amending the Constitution, the state could provide the additional funding to cover the costs of classroom instruction at the University of Idaho.
  3. Changes to the Constitution should be made only for major issues of interest to the state or in the event of a constitutional crisis.

 

H.J.R. 4

"Shall Section 3C, Article VIII, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended to authorize public hospitals, ancillary to their operations and in furtherance of health care needs in their service areas, to incur indebtedness or liability to purchase, contract, lease or construct or otherwise acquire facilities, equipment, technology and real property for health care operations, provided that no ad valorem tax revenues shall be used for such activities?".

 

 

Meaning, Purpose and Result to Be Accomplished

This proposed amendment will allow public hospitals to acquire facilities, equipment, technology and real property through a variety of means that aid the public hospital operations, as long as the acquisitions are paid for solely from charges, rents or payments derived from the existing or financed facilities and are not funded by property taxes.  Under current Idaho constitutional provisions, public hospitals, as subdivisions of the state of Idaho, have limited ability to incur debt without the approval of a two-thirds vote at an election held for that purpose.  This proposed amendment will provide a limited alternative to that two-thirds vote requirement.  The use of tax dollars to finance these kinds of investments is prohibited.

Statements FOR the Proposed Amendment   

  1. The proposed amendment will allow Idaho’s public hospitals, which are primarily located in small towns and rural areas, to invest in new medical equipment, facilities and technology to better meet the health care needs of patients in their communities, strengthening Idaho’s entire health care system.
  2. The proposed amendment will help give public hospitals the resources they need to attract the best medical personnel, spur the economy by creating jobs, and increase operational efficiency through long-term contracts.
  3. The proposed amendment keeps in place the safeguards provided in the Idaho Constitution in two ways. First, no tax dollars can be used to finance these investments. Second, the amendment strictly forbids obligating taxpayers or any state, county or other governmental entity with these investments.

Statements AGAINST the Proposed Amendment

  1. The existing Idaho constitutional requirement mandating a two-thirds assent of the voters before a public hospital can enter into long-term debt is an important safeguard for all Idaho citizens.
  2. Adoption of the proposed amendment will limit the right of voters to approve certain debt incurred by the public hospitals.
  3. Changes to the Constitution should be made only for major issues of interest to the state or in the event of a constitutional crisis.

 

H.J.R. 5

"Shall Article VIII, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a New Section 3E, to provide for the issuance of revenue and special facility bonds by political subdivisions of the state and regional airport authorities as defined by law, if operating an airport to acquire, construct, install, and equip land, facilities, buildings, projects or other property, which are hereby deemed to be for a public purpose, to be financed for, or to be leased, sold or otherwise disposed of to persons, associations or corporations, or to be held by the subdivision or regional airport authority, and may in the manner prescribed by law issue revenue and special facility bonds to finance the costs thereof; provided that any such bonds shall be payable solely from fees, charges, rents, payments, grants, or any other revenues derived from the airport or any of its facilities, structures, systems, or projects, or from any land, facilities, buildings, projects or other property financed by such bonds, and shall not be secured by the full faith and credit or the taxing power of the subdivision or regional airport authority?".

 

Meaning, Purpose and Result to be Accomplished

Currently, local governmental entities that operate airports and regional airport authorities cannot incur indebtedness without the approval of a two-thirds vote at an election held for that purpose.  This proposed amendment will allow local governmental entities that operate airports and regional airport authorities to issue revenue and special facility bonds to acquire, construct, install and equip land, facilities, buildings, projects or other property.  Voter approval will not be required to incur such indebtedness, as long as the bonds are paid for by fees, charges, rents, payments, grants or other revenues derived from the airport or its facilities. The use of tax dollars to repay such bonds is prohibited.   

Statements FOR the Proposed Amendment

  1. Public airports should have the ready ability to construct needed facilities, such as terminals, runways, parking structures and hangars, which provide travelers with better services and accommodations and attract industries to Idaho as long as the users pay for these facilities.
  2. Political subdivisions and regional airport authorities need the ability to efficiently address operational needs as they arise.  Adoption of this amendment will provide this ability without the use of tax dollars to repay any debt or liability incurred.
  3. The inability of political subdivisions and regional airport authorities to incur indebtedness and liability without voter approval has been a contributing factor in driving regional aviation-related industries to conduct business in neighboring states.  If the proposed amendment is not adopted, Idaho could continue to lose similar economic development opportunities.
  4. Public airports are a vital part of economic development and commerce in the state of Idaho.  In 2009, aviation contributed an estimated $2.1 billion to Idaho’s economy.  Properties and facilities funded by special facility bonds will attract and expand industries, such as maintenance, manufacturing and cargo operations, which will create new jobs and foster economic development in Idaho.  Modern and efficient airports are essential to Idaho’s prosperity. 

Statements AGAINST the Proposed Amendment

  1. The existing Idaho constitutional requirement mandating a two-thirds assent of the voters before a political subdivision or regional airport authority can incur debt is an important safeguard for all Idaho citizens.
  2. Adoption of the proposed amendment will allow political subdivisions and regional airport authorities to acquire, construct, install and equip land, facilities, buildings and projects that are not specifically limited to airport operations. 
  3. Buildings and land owned by the government are not taxed and therefore provide no revenues to schools, cities, counties or other levying authorities.  Adoption of the proposed amendment could result in an increase in property exempt from taxation.
  4. Changes to the Constitution should be made only for major issues of interest to the entire state or in the event of a constitutional crisis.

 

H.J.R. 7

"Shall Article VIII, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a New Section 3D to provide that any city owning a municipal electric system may:

(a) acquire, construct, install and equip electric generating, transmission and distribution facilities for the purpose of supplying electricity to customers located within the service area of each system established by law and for the purpose of paying the cost thereof, may issue revenue bonds with the assent of a majority of the qualified electors voting at an election held as provided by law; and

(b) incur indebtedness or liability under agreements to purchase, share, exchange or transmit wholesale electricity for the use and benefit of customers located within such service area;

provided that any revenue bonds, indebtedness or liability shall be payable solely from the rates, charges or revenues derived from the municipal electric system and shall not be secured by the full faith and credit or the taxing power of the city, the state or any political subdivision?" .

 

Meaning, Purpose and Result to Be Accomplished

This proposed amendment has two parts.  The first part will allow any city owning a municipal electric system to acquire, construct, install and equip electrical generating, transmission and distribution facilities for the purpose of supplying electricity to customers within its service area. The city will be authorized to issue revenue bonds to pay for such facilities, with the assent of a majority of the qualified voters, provided that these bonds are paid for by the electrical system rates and charges, or revenues derived from the municipal electric system, and not with tax dollars. 

The second part of this proposed amendment will allow any city owning a municipal electric system to enter into agreements to purchase, share, exchange or transmit wholesale electricity to customers within its service area, without voter approval.  Any indebtedness or liability from these agreements will be paid for by the electrical system rates and charges, or revenues derived from the municipal electric system, and not with tax dollars.

Statements FOR the Proposed Amendment

  1. This amendment will clarify that a city owning a municipal electric system may enter into contracts or agreements for the purchase of wholesale electricity, helping to ensure that its citizens have low-cost and stable electric utility rates.
  2. This amendment will allow a city owning a municipal electric system to responsibly upgrade and modernize electricity-related facilities and help to stabilize electric rates. Such cities will be allowed to issue revenue bonds, with the assent of a majority of voters, in order to finance investment in electric generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.
  3. This amendment provides that voter-approved revenue bonds and other indebtedness or liability shall be payable solely from the revenues derived from the municipal electric system. The amendment specifically provides that the revenue bonds and other indebtedness or liability shall not be secured by the taxing power of the city, state or any political subdivision.

Statements AGAINST the Proposed Amendment

  1. The existing Idaho constitutional requirement mandating a two-thirds assent of the voters before a city owning a municipal electric system can enter into agreements resulting in debt is an important safeguard for all Idaho citizens.
  2. Currently, the Constitution requires two-thirds assent of the voters of a city to approve the issuance of revenue bonds by a city owning a municipal electric system. If adopted, the proposed amendment will require only a majority of the voters to approve the issuance of revenue bonds by the city to finance electric generating, transmission and distribution facilities.
  3. Changes to the Constitution should be made only for major issues of interest to the entire state or in the event of a constitutional crisis.

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