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Eye On Boise

Joint hearings for House, Senate tax panels during session considered

Lawmakers on the Tax Working Group have decided on their next step: Members of the group will be surveyed again on their short-term goals to avoid an end-of-session standoff between the House and the Senate on tax legislation, and they’ll meet again Nov. 3. Among the items the lawmakers will be asked to consider: Holding joint hearings between the House and Senate tax committees early in the session.

That would be a big departure from current practices, in which the Senate never considers anything that hasn’t cleared the House Revenue & Taxation Committee and passed the House. An example of that was pointed out today, when Senate Tax Chairman Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, noted that the Senate’s never even been presented an online sales tax bill to consider, though House Rev &  Tax has debated such proposals for years. “That was an eye-opener when he said that, to me, too,” said House Rev &  Tax Chairman Gary Collins, R-Nampa.

With joint hearings, “We would still control the legislation,” Collins said. But he said it could address the problem of “oftentimes we will be working on something for months, but nobody knows about it on this side. Hopefully that would help alleviate some of that.” He said online sales tax would be a good candidate for that joint-hearings treatment.

Committee members also will be asked to rank their preferences on whether to work on legislation this year dealing with increasing the exemption from business personal property taxes; revising brackets and possibly addressing rates for the personal or corporate income tax; and further examining existing exemptions from the sales tax. When it next meets, the panel also will consider possible public hearings.

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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