BOISE — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has issued his first veto of the 2021 legislative session, refusing to sign a bill involving the responsibilities of the chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission.
Following Friday’s veto, the Republican Little said said the legislation would add red tape that goes against his core belief of good government.
“The legislation adds a burdensome level of bureaucracy and uncertainty, which I fear will only complicate and slow the Tax Commission’s ability to accomplish its important mission,” Little wrote in his veto letter.
He added: “In the last year, we witnessed firsthand during the pandemic the incredible ability of the Tax Commission staff to step up and adapt quickly in changing environments to successfully implement initiatives and programs that support Idaho citizens and businesses.”
The bill passed the House 66-1 and the Senate 23-9.
The Legislature is recessed until April 6 due to a COVID-19 outbreak among lawmakers in the House.
Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke and Republican Senate President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder did not immediately respond to text messages from The Associated Press inquiring whether they would seek to override Little’s veto, which would take a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers.
Last year, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Idaho, Little signed a proclamation extending the tax filing deadline from April 15 to June 15. The commission also played a role in many other financial areas, including handling applications for small businesses so they could receive federal coronavirus emergency funding.
The legislation would require the approval of commissioners when the chairman makes certain administrative decisions. It would also allow commissioners to request that the commission vote on unilateral decisions made by the chairman.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate have put forward some 25 pieces of legislation aimed at limiting a governor’s authority during declared emergencies.
The bill Little vetoed focused on an executive branch agency. The state tax commission’s chairman as well as the commission’s three other commissioner positions are appointed by the governor.
When the bill came up for debate in the House and Senate, the only lawmakers who spoke were the bill’s sponsors.
Republican Rep. Dustin Manwaring, a Republican, described the proposed changes as clarifications.
“These changes will help ensure that the commission works like a commission,” he said last month.
Republican Sen. Jim Rice, speaking this month, said the bill’s changes would give the commissioners more power “rather than having just the commissioner (chairman) make all the decisions and the other three commissioners having no say.”
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