More reports from interim legislative committees to the Legislative Council today:
URBAN RENEWAL INTERIM COMMITTEE: Staffer Mike Nugent reported that the committee has met three times and meets again Nov. 16. It’s heard presentations from an array of sources, including both backers and critics of urban renewal. Around the state, he said, “They’re going at it.” Urban renewal agencies have been criticized in Caldwell and in Coeur d’Alene, where it’s “a political issue,” he said. In Lewiston, “We have the county, the urban renewal agency and the port district all suing each other.”
Among issues the legislative interim committee is looking at, he said, are whether urban renewal boards should be elected or not; ways for people to object to a “rogue urban renewal agency,” such as laws providing attorney fees in successful lawsuits or revisions to consumer protection laws; requests from cities for local-option taxing authority, modeled after Utah; and concerns raised by local governments that they don’t want to lose urban renewal as an economic development tool. Concerns also have been raised that there’s no central place to see all urban renewal plans from around the state; and about the lack of other financing tools for public projects.
At its upcoming meeting, Nugent said, the panel likely will “deal with draft legislation ... if they can agree on a concept of where to go.”
SOLAR ENERGY TASK FORCE: This panel, co-chaired by Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, will hold its first meeting on Nov. 30. It will hear presentations and then tour a new solar project in Boise.
TAX WORKING GROUP: Legislative Services Director Eric Milstead reported that the panel has met four times, and “received input and discussed a wide range of tax-related topics” and “discussed and considered and heard a wide array of tax policy issues.” It will meet again Dec. 15, he said. “At that meeting the group will hear and consider proposed draft legislation,” regarding revising personal and corporate income tax rates, increasing the exemption from business personal property tax from $100,000 per county to $250,000; and removing the sales tax from groceries.