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Senate committee advances bill codifying changes already in place at agency

Senate committee advances bill codifying changes already in place at agency

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
February 25, 2014
[post_thumbnail] Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, left, R-Cottonwood, is vice chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

The Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee has unanimously approved legislation that would authorize the expansion of a state agency, even though the expansion of the agency has already occurred.

“Senators, we are asking for the authority to do much of what the agency already does,” said Roger Sherman, executive director of the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund (ICTF). “We know this is not the way things are supposed to evolve, but it is the way things have evolved. We are asking for your indulgence so we can continue to work against child abuse and neglect.”

The Idaho Children's Trust Fund provides funding, training and technical assistance to community-based programs working to strengthen families in order to prevent child abuse and neglect in Idaho. It is governed by a 10-member board representing all areas of the state.

Sherman was asking that the committee approve House BIll 353, legislation that seeks to amend the operations for the state-created nonprofit ICTF. When asked by Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, if the ICTF is a “nonprofit,” Sherman replied that it is a “state agency,” although he acknowledged that “some would think of as a quasi-governmental entity.”

In the process of reviewing House Bill 353, Sherman candidly admitted that the agency is already operating outside the bounds of the state law that founded it. “This bill will eliminate obsolete language from our founding legislation and bring the statute up to speed with our current practices.”

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

Noting that the bill would allow the ICTF to solicit “other monies” for funding, Nuxoll asked Sherman what, precisely, this terminology meant.

“Can I say its lawyer language?” Sherman replied. “I’m not sure what that would be, but we were advised to include that language from the attorney general’s office.”

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, observed to Sherman “the current statute only funds 10 hours a week for an exec director.” Then noting that the agency already has a full-time worker in that position, he asked “How long ago did that change? And do you see that role going back to 10 hours a week in the future?”

Sherman did not specify how long the agency has been operating in this fashion, but replied that “I don’t see our staffing needs going back to the 10 hours a week arrangement.”

Earlier this month House Bill 353 was presented before the House Health and Welfare Committee, where concerns arose over the agency’s current practices being outside the confines of state statute.

“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,” noted Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, at that House hearing. “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.”

Rosie Reilly, a board member of the ICTF, told the committee that “We need to change the statute. We need more tools to raise revenues for what we do.”

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