In brief: Lawmakers pushing state gas tax hike
OLYMPIA – House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn said Monday she will seek a 10-cent-per-gallon increase to the state’s gas tax.
The proposed tax hike will be a part of a broader transportation revenue package that the Mercer Island lawmaker and several of her Democratic colleagues on the House Transportation Committee plan to unveil Wednesday.
A gas tax increase would likely face its stiffest resistance in the state Senate, which is controlled by Republicans and two Democrats who crossed the aisle to join them. However, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said last month that he would support a gas-tax hike.
Washington’s gas tax is 37.5 cents per gallon, which is among the highest in the country.
Idaho bill prohibits tax on tribal lands
BOISE – The Idaho House’s tax committee was unanimous Monday in backing a bill to clarify that tribe-owned land within Idaho Indian reservations is not subject to local county property taxation.
Such lands hadn’t been taxed in Idaho for a century due to the state constitution’s provision declaring that the state “forever disclaim(s) all right and title” to tribal lands, but some counties around the state started sending tax bills to tribes in 2006. The bill adds tribes to the section of state law noting that government property isn’t subject to local property tax.
Last week, the Kootenai County Commission voted unanimously to cancel the back property taxes it had assessed against the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s reservation lands.
The bill now moves to the full House; to become law, it must pass both there and in the Senate and receive the governor’s signature.
Battle lines drawn over Otter tax plan
BOISE – Cities, counties and school boards are opposed to the governor’s proposal to dump Idaho’s $140 million personal property tax paid by businesses, drawing a battle line on one of the Legislature’s marquee upcoming issues.
In a letter to Gov. Butch Otter obtained by the Associated Press on Monday, the Idaho Association of Counties, the Association of Idaho Cities and the Idaho School Boards Association objected to the measure, which could shift about $40 million of the tax burden to other taxpayers, including homeowners.
The three groups also said the proposal to eliminate the tax by 2020 creates an “untenable burden” on Idaho’s general fund, because the state must come up with $90 million in replacement funding for local governments, according to the proposal.
In his Jan. 7 State of the State speech, Otter cited doing away with the tax on everything from power transmission lines to desks and computers as a keystone of the 2013 session. Companies including Idaho Power Co., the state’s biggest utility, and semiconductor maker Micron Technology Inc. say the tax hurts the state’s business climate.
Mudslide disrupting Everett train service
EVERETT – A Sunday evening mudslide will continue to disrupt passenger train service north of Seattle today.
Officials say Sounder service between Everett and Seattle was canceled Monday.
This morning, it will operate from Mukilteo and Edmonds to Seattle, but it won’t make it up to Everett. If there aren’t any more mudslides, Sounder service could reach Everett by this afternoon.
Amtrak service has also been affected by the mudslide.