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Eye On Boise

House GOP leaders push for interim committee or task force on Internet sales tax issue

House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said he's confident that the Idaho Legislature won't let the streamlined sales tax issue drop after the legislation's failure in a House committee today. Instead, he said he'll push for an interim legislative committee or task force to look into the issue and propose legislation next year; this year's bill, which would conform Idaho's sales tax definitions to national standards to enable the state to join a national coalition of state governments gearing up for congressional approval to collect sales tax on Internet or other remote sales, wouldn't have taken effect until 2013 anyway.

"I didn't want this to be just a big floor fight out in the weeds of the details," Bedke said. "I think there are very few people that have a problem - they understand that in this day and age, when a lot of commerce is conducted on the Internet, that creates a disadvantage to traditional businesses in Idaho."

Even Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, who opposed the bill in committee today, said before her vote, "I'm probably 80 percent in favor of this bill," and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who also voted against the bill, said, "I think this issue has been around and we need to get everybody at the table and come up with a solution. ... An interim committee gives us the opportunity to go through that process, get a comfort level and make sure it's done right."

In a three-hour committee hearing on the bill today, only one person, Wayne Hoffman, testified against it; all other testimony was in favor. House Speaker Lawerence Denney said, "An interim committee or interim task force might be a good thing to do."

House Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, argued in favor of the bill in today's hearing. "It's a tax that's due and payable currently," he said. "It does level the playing field. And there is some need from time to time to adjust the tax code. From 1965 (when Idaho's sales tax was enacted) to 2012 is 47 years." Roberts said he sees it as an economic development issue. "If you're a business and you want to locate in Idaho, you're going to look at whether you automatically step into a disadvantaged situation." Removing out-of-state retailers' tax advantage, he said, would bring more business into the state.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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