Eye On Boise

Idaho one of just 2 states that tax Girl Scout cookies; scouts aim to change that

Reps. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d'Alene, left, and Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, talk to Brownie Ella Marcum-Hart, 9, Monday in the state Capitol. (Betsy Russell)
Reps. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d'Alene, left, and Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, talk to Brownie Ella Marcum-Hart, 9, Monday in the state Capitol. (Betsy Russell)

As Girl Scouts fan out across the state for their annual cookie sale, under current law, 22 cents of every $3.75 box they sell will go to the state of Idaho, rather than to Girl Scout programs. The Girl Scouts of the Silver Sage Council aim to change that, so they’re pushing for legislation this year to end Idaho’s distinction as one of just two states – Hawaii is the other – that still taxes Girl Scout cookies.

Removing Idaho’s 6 percent sales tax from the fundraiser cookies would cost the state roughly $140,000 a year, according to legislation being sponsored by Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, and co-sponsored by Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise. But the Girl Scouts say the money goes to a great cause: 23 percent of Silver Sage girl scouts are on scholarship, and the money to pay for their membership fees, badges, sashes and for camp comes from the cookie sale. Plus, Girl Scouts sponsor anti-bullying and STEM education programs among other good works; and their results speak for themselves: 80 percent of Girl Scouts go on to earn bachelor’s degrees; 80 percent of U.S. women business owners are former Girl Scouts; every female astronaut who’s flown in space is former Girl Scout; and 70 percent of the women in the U.S. Congress are former Girl Scouts.

“The state shouldn’t be balancing its budgets on the backs of Brownies,” declares Julie Hart, a lobbyist who’s representing the Girl Scouts free of charge, and who’s also the mother of a 9-year-old Brownie, Ella Marcum-Hart. She’s among about 30 Girl Scouts who came to the state Capitol today to press the case for their program and their tax bill, which currently is awaiting a hearing date for possible introduction in the House Revenue & Taxation Committee. The scouts distributed cards to every lawmaker about their cookie program, including how it helps the girls learn money management, business ethics, goal setting and people skills. They’re set up in the 1st floor rotunda of the state Capitol today, where lawmakers can meet them, hear about their legislation and exchange their cards for a free box of Girl Scout cookies.

Burgoyne, a former Boy Scout who stopped by to chat with Hart today, said, “I was very impressed with the analysis I read about how many successful women in the United States were Girl Scouts.” Nearby, Ella demonstrated a goal-setting bracelet and other crafts to Reps. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, and Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, shown here. Her mom, a lobbyist who’s taken on this client pro-bono, said she’s gotten overwhelmingly positive response from legislators so far – except from the Rev & Tax Committee, where her bill awaits action. She’s hoping to get an introductory hearing date soon; Ella already is working on her speech in favor of the bill. Said Hart, “I am trying my hardest to get this passed for them.”




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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