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Eye On Boise

Bills, bills, bills

The number of bills being filed in the Legislature has ballooned up to beyond last year’s level, after a slow start. Among the bills introduced just on Monday: Rathdrum Rep. Wayne Meyer’s legislation to require community college boards to cooperate with local officials like county commissioners, mayors, city councils and school boards (the law already required those local boards to cooperate with community colleges – Meyer just wanted to make it even). And St. Maries Rep. Dick Harwood’s bill to expand the current law that forbids selling drugs within a certain distance of schools to also apply to preschools, Head Start, family day-care homes, group day-care facilities and a list of others.

But the big attention-getter among new bills on Monday was the new version of Rep. Ken Roberts’ plan to amend the state constitution to require a two-thirds vote for future tax increases. The new version, which replaces one introduced earlier, expands the idea to include not just tax hikes, but also any act of the Legislature to remove or reduce any tax break or exemption.

Members of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee noted that the amendment would mean tax breaks could be enacted by a simple majority vote, but it’d take two-thirds to get rid of them.

“One is raising a tax,” Roberts explained. “The other is enjoying a tax break for different reasons, maybe industry reasons.”

After the committee defeated an attempt to kill Roberts’ bill on an 11-6 vote, it voted to introduce the measure. Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, grumbled, “I think this is an invitation to gridlock, and if we’d had it last year we would still be here – after a short recess."

Last year, Idaho lawmakers went a record 118 days in session before finally agreeing to raise taxes to balance the budget.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.