A proposal that would allow Idahoans to use a new silver medallion to pay their state taxes and give tax exemptions for some silver operations was rejected by a Senate panel Wednesday. Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, said the plan would create an incentive to bring a silver production facility to Idaho, and could bring in millions in new jobs and silver sales.
The Senate Local Government and Taxation rejected the plan, one of several proposed tax breaks that have died in the committee. Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, said silver mining companies don’t deserve special treatment. “I don’t know why we would target this industry when there are so many other industries that would be deserving.”
Stegner and Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden, both expressed concern over letting the state treasurer sell new silver medallions. “Putting the Idaho treasurer in the position of a commodities trader would not be a healthy position for the state of Idaho,” Jorgenson said. Five other senators joined Jorgenson and Stegner in a vote to hold the proposal in committee, effectively ending its chances of becoming law this year.
“I don’t think it puts [the treasurer] in the commodities market,” Hart said after the committee rejected the plan. He also said that until 1965, the state treasurer engaged in similar actions buying and selling gold and silver. “We’re not really rolling the clock back all that far,” he said. Hart added that he will discuss the silver legislation with lawmakers on the committee before the next legislative session, when he will reintroduce the proposal. “I just need to sell the bill,” he said.