Gov. Butch Otter is negotiating with Idaho Indian tribes over gas taxes and said he doesn't want lawmakers to cut off the negotiations July 1. On Tuesday, House Speaker Lawerence Denney introduced new legislation to replace an earlier House GOP leadership bill that sought to take away gas tax revenue from any tribe that doesn't reach an agreement with the governor by July 1. The new version of the bill, introduced on a party-line vote in the House Ways and Means Committee, would give the governor and tribes until Dec. 1 to reach an agreement.
“The governor is focused on the negotiations," said David Hensley, Otter's legal counsel. "The governor told me that we need a longer time frame if we're going to be realistic about reaching an agreement with the tribes, and we need some time to sit down and work through that."
Denney also made another change in the bill he introduced Tuesday to replace HB 188: He eliminated a clause that said even if tribes reached agreements with the governor, they'd be voided if lawmakers didn't approve the agreements at their next legislative session. "We have agreed to strike" that clause, Denney told the Ways and Means Committee, "which basically says if we do nothing, if the Legislature does nothing, we negate the agreement between the tribes and the governor."
Democrats on the committee objected to the new version, saying there's no need for any legislation when the tribes and the governor already are in negotiations. Read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review.