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Eye On Boise

Panel holds off on vote, ponders amendments to 2/3 vote measure for tax, fee hikes

After much discussion and debate, the House State Affairs Committee has voted to hold off on passing HJR 1, Sen. Steve Vick's measure to amend the Idaho Constitution to require a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate for any tax or fee increase; committee members want to work on amendments.  Several committee members, including Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, advocated doing away with the “net increase” wording Vick included in the measure.

Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, said, “The reason … something about net revenue needs to go in there, let's say we want to do a tax reform bill where we eliminate income tax and replace it all with sales tax … but there's no net revenue increase to the state. … We could reform taxes without a two-thirds vote, but if you just wanted to raise the sales tax to 8 percent, we couldn't do that.” Others on the panel raised concerns that the measure, as written, would require a two-thirds vote to remove a tax or fee exemption. Luker said as written, the bill is “still fraught with a lot of ambiguity and I just can't vote for it the way it is here.”

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, moved to send the bill to the amending order, but after Luker called instead for holding it while working on amendments the committee could review, Crane withdrew his motion and Luker's passed unanimously.

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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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