BOISE – Coeur d’Alene Rep. Paul Amador successfully blocked Rep. Heather Scott’s amendment to her own bill limiting bond and levy elections on Friday, offering his own instead, and the bill ended up sidelined and may be dead for the session.
Scott, R-Blanchard, proposed legislation to forbid school districts, cities, counties, or any other Idaho taxing district that has a bond issue or tax levy measure fail from trying again – even with reductions or changes – for a year. She said she wanted to target “aggressive taxing districts” that “don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Amador wrote an amendment to remove the word “levy” – so that the limit would apply only to bond issues, which typically are for big proposals funded by multi-year debt. The House, in a narrow, unrecorded vote in its amending order Friday, rejected Scott’s own technical amendment to her bill in favor of Amador’s.
Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding, also proposed major amendments to Scott’s bill, but the House didn’t vote on those, because after Scott’s own amendment failed, she asked the House to send the bill back to committee, and all amendments were withdrawn. That typically means the bill is dead for this year.
Amador, who like Scott is a Republican, said, “Generally speaking, I think if bills are returned to committee, that’s not a good sign. I’m certainly willing to continue to work and talk about the issue, but I thought the bill … in its current state, was not good for the state of Idaho.”
Amador noted that nearly all of Idaho’s school districts now turn to voters at least every two years for supplemental property tax levies. “Whether we want to admit it or not, they have become part of most school districts’ base funding,” he said. “They are necessary for their daily operations.”
He said if a tax levy fails, it makes sense for a district to revise it and try again for a lower amount, if that’s what their local voters favor. “I think we’ve got to put some faith in our elected school board trustees,” he said. “The citizens elect those members, and they have a fiduciary responsibility to their districts and to their voters.”
He added, “I think as a Legislature, we have to have a certain level of respect for our school trustees that are elected.”
Scott didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Scott’s bill drew opposition in an earlier committee hearing from Idaho’s associations of school boards, school superintendents, cities and libraries, who said it would limit voters’ choices.
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