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Thursday, September 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Senate passes grocery tax repeal bill, 25-10

The Senate has voted 25-10 in favor of HB 67a, the grocery tax repeal bill. The bill, originally an income tax cut bill when it passed the House, now goes back to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments.

Here’s how they voted:

Voting yes: Sens. Agenbroad, Bayer, Buckner-Webb, Burgoyne, Crabtree, DenHartog, Foreman, Hagedorn, Harris, Johnson, Jordan, Keough, Lakey, Lee, Martin, Nonini, Nye, Patrick, Rice, Souza, Stennett, Thayn, Vick, Ward-Engelking, and Winder.

Voting no: Sens. Bair, Davis, Guthrie, Heider, Hill, Mortimer, Siddoway, Lodge, Brackett and Anthon. 

Some comments from the debate:

Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland: “Nobody likes taxes. I think if you were to ask most of my constituents, they would like to not have any taxes, and yet there is an expectation that there are services that we share and that should be provided in our state. And so, we are left with the task of identifying what should be taxed, how should we tax citizens of the state in order to provide the services that they expect. … My question is: Should we tax our families to buy the necessary basics of providing food for their families?“ She said, “This is, in my opinion, not an appropriate tax on our families.”

Lee noted that a new Waremart store, a division of Winco, just opened across the river from her hometown, in Oregon. She tried to tell them that Idaho’s more business-friendly and has lower income taxes than Oregon. But all that mattered was that shoppers would prefer to shop where they didn’t pay a 6 percent sales tax on their grocery purchases.

Sen. Lori DenHartog, R-Meridian: “This is for every Idaho citizen, low-income, middle-income, fixed income, all the way up through to the top. This really matters. This is the right thing to do.”

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton: Idaho has committed to substantial, ongoing costs to fund the new teacher career ladder pay plan. “If we’re going to stay true to those principles, we’re going to have to come up with the money,” he said. “This exemption is going to reduce those revenues. … If we decide we’re going to compete with education and put some undedicated general fund money into our roads, we’re digging ourselves a hole, and we’re digging it pretty fast.”

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise: “My first legislative session was 2008. I campaigned on repealing the grocery tax. It’s only been nine sessions, and we’re here. And I’m glad. … The economy is growing right now. … We should avoid to the extent that we reasonably can the taxation of basic necessities like food. … By and large, this is about as equal a tax break for folks that we’re going to see. Everybody buys food. … And everybody will see the benefits of this repeal.”



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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