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Eye On Boise

Behind-the-scenes prep starts for big tax debate in Senate

Senate Republicans – that’s all but seven members of the Senate – went behind closed doors for an hour today to talk about property tax reform in a closed majority caucus. That’s among the hottest issues hanging fire in the Senate right now – the Senate Local Government & Tax committee has sent six bills to the Senate’s amending order, where any senator can offer amendments. That process likely will start early next week.

Majority Caucus Chair Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett, said the committee has been immersed in studying the issue all session, but the rest of the Senate needs to get up to speed. As part of the closed-door session, all members got copies of the same packet of background about the issues that Committee Chair Sen. Hal Bunderson, R-Meridian, has distributed to his committee and the public.

The process of amending bills in the Senate’s amending order, the 14th Order, is an intricate one. “The 14th Order is a tough place to write tax policy,” Little said, noting that the order has limits on debate and other quirks.

Asked if the Senate GOP discussion could have taken place in the open, Little said, “Yes.” The reason it didn’t? “Because it was a caucus meeting, and a caucus meeting is defined as a closed meeting.”

Minority Democrats caucused at the same time in the open, however, and talked about the same topic.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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