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Idaho House rejects vehicle fee measure

Thu., March 12, 2009

BOISE – After intense debate, the Idaho House has rejected the only local-option tax bill to make it out of committee this year.

The House voted 31-39 on Rep. Raul Labrador’s local vehicle-registration fee bill.

Idaho’s Legislature strictly limits local government taxing authority. The few local-option taxes the state allows were approved only after legislative battles. Local governments in Idaho are funded almost entirely by the property tax, and increases in those taxes are limited by law.

In arguing for his bill, Labrador, R-Eagle, told the House, “We have different needs around the state, and sometimes we need some local authority to take care of those needs.”

The bill had earlier been amended to require a two-thirds local vote to approve the fees, which would have to be for specific road or bridge projects, rather than a simple majority. That lost some former supporters who liked the lower vote threshold.

Among those speaking in favor of the bill was Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who said, “I think we need to give the counties something right away to help deal with these transportation issues.”

But Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, said, “What we have here now, of course, is just another back-door approach of how we should get local-option taxing.” Clark said he’s against local-option tax legislation that doesn’t include a restrictive constitutional amendment.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or For more news from Boise go to

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