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Crowd bids farewell to influential tax chair

The House Revenue & Taxation Committee meeting room was transformed into a party room this morning, with three kinds of cake, lots of visiting and reminiscing, and congrats to longtime Chairwoman Dolores Crow, R-Nampa, who is retiring after this session.

When Randy Nelson, head of Associated Taxpayers of Idaho, arrived with his usual thick black briefcase, Crow asked him what she always asks him at committee hearings: “Do you have a handout?”

Reps. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, came in together. “We’re the gentlemen from District 5 – we come as a delegation,” Nonini told Crow. “You’re just going to see if I’m going to run that RS,” Crow responded with a chuckle, as Nonini began saying, “We’ve got an interchange…”

It didn’t take long before both Nonini and Henderson were on their knees in front of Crow, mock-begging her to revive a bill that was unceremoniously killed earlier, to provide a tax incentive for sporting-goods giant Cabela’s to build a store in Post Falls. The measure may get new life, the two hinted.

Legislative leaders, lobbyists, staffers, pages and others who have worked with – or even clashed with – Crow over the years came by to eat cake and congratulate her on her service. Crow has been the House tax chair for the past eight years – serving as the de facto gatekeeper over all tax legislation in Idaho – and is among the Legislature’s longest-serving members, serving her 12th House term. She was first appointed to the Legislature by Lt. Gov. David Leroy in 1983.

“I have very much enjoyed working for the citizens of the State of Idaho, hearing their concerns and trying to find solutions to their problems,” Crow said when she announced her retirement. “I’m proud of the fact that I was able to protect the interests of the state’s taxpayers and lower taxes during my time in the Legislature.”

Crow served eight years as chair of the House Environmental Affairs Committee and four years on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee before taking over the tax committee. Because tax legislation is constitutionally required to start in the House, that panel – and its chairman – plays a key role in Idaho tax policy, deciding which ideas get a start in the Legislature and which don’t.

Crow and her husband Wayne, who passed away in 1998, were longtime Republican Party activists in Canyon County.

What comes next? Crow, a retired businesswoman who has six children and a half-dozen grandchildren, said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m gonna do something.”

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.