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HB 639 - Bond election frequency

HB 639 - Bond election frequency

Phil Haunschild
March 1, 2018

Bill description: HB 639 would prohibit taxing districts from putting bond elections up for a vote more than once per year.

Rating: +2

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability? 

Currently, taxing districts in Idaho can go before their voters four times annually (March, May, August, and November) to ask for the passage of bonds. If passed, bonds increase the property-tax assessed on property owned within the district and are used to supplement the revenue of taxing districts (e.g., school districts, counties, cities, fire districts, etc.).

HB 639 would prohibit taxing districts from taking the same type of request to their voters more than once per year. In the past, after the failure of a vote, some districts have gone to their voters with identical requests three more times in a calendar year before the voters finally approved the measure. Allowing districts to repeatedly place the same, or similar, measure before voters multiple times creates a perverse incentive for them to request more than needed and, in the event that measure fails, to either retry the same amount with voters or to try a reduced amount that might be approved.


Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt? 

By reducing the frequency of votes that go before voters, HB 639 would save taxpayers from election costs. At present, if taxing districts put the same or a similar measure up for a vote four times a year it could quadruple elections costs, especially when said votes are held during off-cycle elections, such as in August and March, without anything or anyone else on the ballot.


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