February 2, 2012 in Idaho

N. Idaho senator pushes 2/3 approval for tax hikes

By The Spokesman-Review
Betsy Russell photo

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, pitches his proposed constitutional amendment Thursday to require a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature for any tax or fee increase; the measure was introduced, but some lawmakers expressed misgivings about it.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE - North Idaho Sen. Steve Vick wants Idaho to enact a constitutional amendment to require two-thirds votes in both the House and Senate to pass any tax or fee increase.

Vick noted that 16 states have such requirements; all were enacted by voters through initiatives or referenda. “I think that any time you raise taxes you take a little bit of people’s freedom,” Vick said. “I just think it should be a little harder to do.”

Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, told the House State Affairs Committee this morning, “What you need to know is that these kinds of things are very popular with the voters.”

Committee members had lots of questions about Vick’s proposal, however. “Idaho is different,” said Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake. “We aren’t out there raising taxes as much as some of these states.” Other committee members asked whether the provision would apply to administrative rules that impose fee increases; those are much more common in Idaho than tax hikes. Vick said it would, though he said he’d seek clarification about the wording of his measure, which would add this sentence to the Idaho Constitution: “No bill that provides for a net increase in revenue, whether through fees or txes, shall become law without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of each house.”

Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, said, “This is a provocative piece of legislation, so I’m going to recommend that we introduce it,” and the committee agreed; that clears the way for a full hearing on the measure.

Amending Idaho’s constitution requires a two-thirds vote from each house of the Legislature followed by a majority vote of the people at the next general election.

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