Week 12 at the Idaho Legislature

at the Statehouse (12)

Sine Die? Maybe? No? Sometime?

Let’s start off with a significant bit of good news. SB1196, the budget for Idaho’s Department of Parks & Recreation, has passed both chambers! The $100 million in funding will go towards improvement projects and conservation measures, support that is ever more necessary as our state lands receive unprecedented use from both Idahoans and visitors. More to come on this exciting (yes, exciting!) budget!

We’re definitely celebrating this win for our state forests, parks, and other natural spaces. However, the win is tempered with other news from the statehouse: a large property tax debacle is holding up business and preventing lawmakers from closing out the 2023 legislative session.

On Monday, Governor Little vetoed HB292, which would have done various things in an attempt to lower property taxes. Citing unintended consequences and unnecessarily long and complicated bill text, the governor asked the legislature to come back with something better. The Senate swiftly amended most of the language out of a standby bill, passed it, and sent it to the House for consideration. Called a “radiator cap” bill, the new version basically eliminates the contents from HB198 (like when a radiator overheats and everything comes flying out) and refilled the bill-shell with new language to address the Governor’s concerns. 

In response, the House of Representatives proposed new property tax legislation early yesterday. Incidentally, there is a significant mistake that would make all bonding for transportation projects in 2024 impossible. By evening recess, the House had voted down the Senate’s version of HB198, citing their authority to originate tax bills, and voted to override the Governor’s veto.  

Until something moves forward on the property tax legislation, both bodies have been slow to address other legislation waiting in the line up. It’s disappointing to see such a primary issue struggling for resolution in these last few days of the session, but adjournment sine die is preferable to another poorly crafted tax bill. As a reminder, a property tax relief bill was rushed through the process in the final days of the 2022 session. That legislation had disastrous consequences for local governments and failed to provide actual relief. Let’s hope the end of this session doesn’t yield a similar outcome, though we seem to be on the same path. 

As soon as they adjourn, we’ll put together a list of all the bills, resolutions, and memorials CVI engaged on detailing what passed and what didn’t. Stay tuned! 

The property tax debacle does have one upside. It means there’s still time to contact your Representative about SJR101. If you haven’t already (or want to send a reminder!) please take the time to contact your House member. The upcoming vote on SJR 101 is going to be very close, so we need every voice urging our lawmakers to protect Idaho’s ballot initiative process. We have a chance to kill this harmful legislation. Make your voice heard! 

Hang in there folks – they should be going home soon! Hopefully!