HJR2: Institutionalizes oversight into state constitution

Whether it passes or fails, HJR2, the constitutional amendment on the November ballot, will not change anything about the way state government operates. All it proposes to do is enshrine in the state constitution a practice that has been going on in Boise each winter for decades. That is the tedious but important job of reviewing the regulations passed by state agencies to execute the statutes passed by lawmakers. Sometimes lawmakers leave the intricate details of state government to state agencies to figure out. Lawmakers may, for example, vote to create a new tax incentive program, as they did last
Read More

Sharing economy is free enterprise at its finest

The “sharing economy” is pretty much as simple as it sounds. People voluntarily providing services for other people, usually through websites or apps on smartphones. With this sharing economy comes a litany of “problems,” according to some people. I’ve heard the argument that services such as Uber, Lyft and AirBnB must be regulated to ensure the safety of users. Ridiculous. The sharing economy is nothing new. In fact, that whole free market thing that we talk about so much? Yeah, that’s what a sharing economy boils down to: People providing services for other people. People inventing products to address certain
Read More

Who would have believed it … candidates talking about pension reform

Hooray for progress. For the first time that I can ever remember, candidates for statewide office are talking about Idaho’s pension system. What a blessing it is to finally have an election conversation about PERSI, the costly system that provides for Idaho government employees in their retirement. Midvale Republican Lawerence Denney started the water boiling during a TV debate in which he said, “I think that it is a good idea to take all elected officials off the PERSI system.” Denney is a state representative running for secretary of state. Should Denney win, he’ll be able to parlay his pension
Read More

Don’t confuse low tax collections with low tax rates

Does Idaho have a “revenue gap?” Are people in Idaho are undertaxed? If you measure Idaho’s state and local tax collections on a per capita basis, it has one of lowest rankings of all states. However, if you measure the state and local tax burden as a percent of state income, Idaho ranks No. 24. That tax burden falls on the people. Idaho’s top income tax rate of 7.4 percent is effective at a marginal taxable income of $10,567 for individuals. Three adjacent states, Washington, Nevada and Wyoming, have no individual income tax. Oregon is the only adjacent state with
Read More

Idaho should control the federal lands within our border

Representatives from 14 states recently convened in Salt Lake City to discuss an issue of critical importance to the future of both the West and the nation as a whole. The issue is the management and control of the hundreds of millions of acres of public land currently claimed by the federal government. While the feds control land in each of the 50 states, the vast majority of this land is concentrated in the western states (including Alaska.) While there are several complex legal reasons why the control of this land properly belongs with the states, perhaps the most compelling
Read More