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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Capitol Notebook

Boatright sees funds for Head Start

Sen. Clyde Boatright said Wednesday he’s hopeful this is the year Idaho will end its distinction as one of nine states that provides no state funding for Head Start.

Boatright met with Head Start officials and four other lawmakers, including Rep. Hilde Kellogg, R-Post Falls, on Wednesday to discuss possible legislation to provide funds.

The federal program for disadvantaged preschoolers now has waiting lists throughout the state. Only about a fifth of eligible youngsters are in Head Start.

Racetrack simulcast bill to be heard

The House State Affairs Committee agreed Wednesday to hear a bill that would allow new horse racetrack owners to apply for simulcast licenses upon purchase.

Current law demands new track purchasers wait two years before applying for simulcast licenses.

Richard Cade, a state race commissioner, said the current law penalizes people who buy racetracks that already offer simulcast racing in addition to live races.

Tax appeals board warns of cuts

Members of the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals say a legislative committee’s decision this week to slash their emergency spending request will hurt taxpayers and short an agency that’s already strapped for cash.

The Legislature’s budget committee voted 11-9 this week to give the board just $21,000 in additional funding this fiscal year, rather than the $46,700 Gov. Phil Batt recommended.

The board was established by the Legislature in 1969 to hear appeals from taxpayers on any kind of Idaho state tax, including property, sales and income taxes.

The board members, who serve as administrative judges, make $75 a day and have not had a pay raise since 1980. Part of the funding that was denied would have paid to train board members on how to conduct hearings and write opinions.

The board’s executive director, Eileen Peterson, who has served for 13 years, is taking early retirement this year.

In their news release, the board members said the director is “tired of begging.”

Committee to weigh referendum issue

The House State Affairs Committee agreed Wednesday to hear debate on a measure that would give the state Legislature referendum authority.

Rep. Jim Kempton, R-Albion, is introducing the bill after a failed attempt for a referendum last year.

Last session, several legislators proposed an increase in the state sales tax to boost schools’ maintenance and operation funds. Kempton said the idea was for lawmakers to conceptually support the increase and then hold a referendum for final approval by taxpayers.

However, the state attorney general ruled that the Legislature has no referendum authority.

, DataTimes

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