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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

House votes 37-32 for Rep. Scott’s bill to limit repeat bond issue votes

Here’s an article from Idaho Education News:

By Clark Corbin

The Idaho House narrowly passed a bill Thursday that would force school districts to wait a year after a failed bond issue before running another one.

Sponsoring Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said HB 639 is intended to limit “aggressive” tactics from school districts that turn around and run a new bond issue after voters reject one. HB 639 states, in part, “in the event that a bond election fails to be approved by the electors of the district, no subsequent bond question of the same type or subject shall be submitted to the electors of the same district for a period of eleven months from the date of the election that failed to approve the issuance of bonds.”

“This is a very aggressive tactic, and the voice of the voter appears to be almost ignored,” Scott said. “If it’s the exact same (bonding) question being asked over and over, the intent of this bill is to stop that.”

Under Idaho law, school districts must win approval of a two-thirds supermajority of voters to pass a bond issue to go into debt to fund long-term projects, such as construction of new schools. Several districts, including East Idaho’s Bonneville Joint School District, have had to try multiple times to cross the supermajority threshold.

The House was divided over the issue, with some representatives saying the bill may do serious harm to school districts facing an emergency, such as a collapsed roof, unsafe facilities or a fire.

“It concerns me there is no tie back to emergencies here at all,” said New Plymouth Republican Rep. Ryan Kerby, whose school district struggled to pass a bond after a school burned down.

Others said passing the bill goes against local control.

 “I’m concerned we’re losing faith in our elected officials at the local level,” Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene said. “I’m also worrying we’re starting to question the will of voters.”

But supporters said the bill is intended to honor the will of voters.

“If voters have spoken, maybe the school board needs to listen to that, rework the thing, take a breath, cool off and come up with a better solution – maybe in the next year, not two months later,” Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, said.

In the end, the bill passed by a thin 37-32 margin. HB 639 next heads to the Senate, where it may be assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee.



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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