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Eye On Boise

Fri., March 21, 2008, 11:08 a.m.

Local-option tax amendment passes House

A constitutional amendment to impose new limits on future local-option sales taxes in Idaho, including requiring a two-thirds supermajority at a November general election and requiring the votes to be by county, just passed the House on a 51-19 vote – which meets the two-thirds requirement and now moves the amendment to the Senate.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, said, “This will allow the people of the state of Idaho the opportunity to vote, to vote to decide if they want local option, and to vote to decide if they want those protections that are included in this constitutional amendment. This will allow our local people to have the power to determine their own destiny.” Rep. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, responded, “I would have to beg to differ on this particular piece of legislation and the idea of a constitutional amendment. In my mind this is a way in which the legislature will move forward in actually restricting the ability of local governments to levy taxes. … It will make it harder.”

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, said her district includes communities with local-option resort city taxes, which require just a 60 percent supermajority. “So many people come into our communities that they need extra fire, they need extra police,” she said. “The communities did not want to ask the property taxpayers to make up the cost.” That’s why they turned to local-option sales taxes, she said, which have been upheld in court twice as compliant with the state constitution – without any amendment. “What happened to local control?” Jaquet asked. Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said, “We need to make it harder for those folks to levy taxes on the people.… We need to watch out for the taxpayers. This constitutional amendment does exactly that.” Added Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, “It does not forbid a local option tax, it just makes it a little harder.” Said Moyle, “These are not restrictions, these are protections. … We’re protecting the citizens.”

To amend the constitution, a two-thirds vote is required in each house of the Legislature, plus simple majority support from voters at the next general election.

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.