With a rapt audience of nearly two dozen lobbyists listening closely, a legislative interim committee made history this week – recommending repeal of four existing tax breaks and re-evaluation of a long list of others. A similar committee spent months studying the same issues four years ago, but failed to recommend any specific changes. "I feel good – we've made a good start," said Senate Tax Chair Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. "This is what our committee in the Senate wanted, was just a chance – let's evaluate these things. This is why you didn't see a single one go through the Senate committee this year." Senators blocked new tax breaks to hold out for a review of existing exemptions.
Among those in the audience was Russ Westerberg, who lobbies for clients including Hagadone Corp., the Kootenai Tribe, Revett Minerals and PacifiCorp. "I've got a whole battery of clients that are interested in what they're doing," he said. Westerberg said he wrote the bill that granted the ski area tax break – now targeted for repeal – back in the 1980s. "Maybe that exemption is no longer justified – maybe it's time for the state to look at it," Westerberg said. Read my full story here in today’s Spokesman-Review.