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House committee approves legislation authorizing activities already in use

House committee approves legislation authorizing activities already in use

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
February 3, 2014
[post_thumbnail]Rep. Christy Perry, R- Nampa, is a member of the House Health and Welfare Committee.

A committee of the Idaho House of Representatives has approved legislation that seeks to amend the operations for a state-created nonprofit agency. However, in the process of reviewing House Bill 353, members of the House Health and Welfare Committee discovered that the agency is presently operating outside the bounds of the state law that founded the agency.

The Idaho Children’s Trust Fund (ICTF) is a nonprofit entity created in 1985 to administer child abuse prevention programs. “We have been receiving federal grants since 1996,” noted Roger Sherman, executive director of the ICTF, as he explained to the committee that the agency is funded with a combination of federal government grants and private donations, but receives no state general funds.

The bill calls for, among other things, expanding the authority of the agency’s board of directors; allowing board members the authority to solicit and accept grants and donations; and authorizing the agency to employ a full-time executive director.

Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, taking note of considering a bill in response to what an agency is already doing, said “I think we have a situation where we get into the weeds when we debate things and we try to amend a statute to fit an agency’s practice. A statute is supposed to guide and limit an agency’s practice, not the other way around, and I think our approach here is backwards from the way it is supposed to be.”

Perry spoke with IdahoReporter.com after the committee hearing. “My remarks were not directed at Roger Sherman specifically. I am very supportive of what he and the ICTF do. But I see this approach in multiple committees where we are amending legislation to fit the current practices of state agencies and that is backwards from the way things are supposed to be. It’s a problem that needs to change.”

During the hearing, Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, asked Sherman “what is the expected pay for the executive director that you want to hire?”

Sherman replied that “I am the executive director. I receive $22 an hour, plus the state benefits,” adding that there are no plans to change his rate of pay.

Rep. Doug Hancey, R-Rexburg, asked Sherman: “It appears we’re going from a part-time executive director to a full-time executive director. Do you currently have a secretary and an office rented for all this new activity?”

“We will see relatively little change by doing this,” Sherman replied. “This legislative change will bring us into compliance with what we already do.”

“What is your current administrative cost to run this program, and what will it be if you get this change through?” Hancey asked.

“It’s small, but I hesitate to give you a number,” Sherman stated. “We use the Department of Health and Welfare’s fiscal services, we use their billing and so forth, so our administrative costs are minimal.”

“That didn’t answer my question, but I have a follow-up,” Hancey stated. “You’re dealing with a million and a half dollars, and it sounds like your administrative costs are quite observant for the size of the fund. It bothers me that we have such little information for the size of the fund and the expansion of staff.”

“Our work is not really so much about administration,” Sherman replied. “We just focus on creating a system of prevention. Our work just enhances prevention work around the state.”

After Sherman’s discussions with Vander Woude and Hancey, Rob Luce, director for family and community services for the Idaho Division of Family and Community Services, a division within the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, spoke to the committee. “What is really happening when we talk about going from part time to full time is that right now Mr. Sherman works 39 hours a week, and with this expansion he’ll be going to 40. In terms of administrative costs, we’re talking about an hour a week.”

“So with one additional hour, Sherman will be able to raise substantially more money?” Vander Woude asked.

“I don’t think one hour a week will make all that much difference in revenues,” Luce replied. “The point is that this activity is already happening. In my opinion, I would view this as merely technical changes to come in to current times.” The stated purpose of House Bill 353 is to bring the statute that founded the ICTF “in line with current business practices.”

The committee voted in favor of advancing the bill to the House floor, with Hancey casting the lone “no” vote.

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