North Idaho Rep. Heather Scott was back Monday with a new version of her bill to limit repeat tax levy and bond elections – this time limited just to bonds.
“This is the exact same bill we dealt with last week – it just removes levies and it just keeps bonds,” Scott told the House State Affairs Committee. “It’s kind of a gentler approach, let’s just call it that.”
Scott, R-Blanchard, said her original bill, which was derailed in the House on Friday and sent back to committee, was meant to target “aggressive taxing districts” that keep returning to voters with proposals, albeit slimmed-down ones, that had previously been rejected.
“I do believe we have a problem here,” Scott said. “Obviously we’re not going to get it fixed this year. But I do believe voters’ voices need to be heard. If we have to start with bonds, fine.”
Rep. Randy Armstrong, R-Inkom, tried to contain his laughter as he commented, “I don’t know that there’s hypocrisy or justice in presenting this right away – because that’s … what the school district does to the voters, is to continue to do it over and over until it passes. But I applaud your effort and think it’s a great idea.”
The committee voted 13-1 to send the new version of Scott’s bill directly to the full House, with no additional hearing. Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, cast the only dissenting vote.
The earlier bill was opposed by Idaho school boards, school administrators, cities and libraries, who said it would limit voters’ choices.
The vast majority of Idaho school districts rely on supplemental tax levies, which must be approved by voters at least every two years. If a tax levy fails, it makes sense for a district to revise it and try again for a lower amount, said Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene.
Bond and levy votes can occur only on specified election dates in November, March, May and August.
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