Bill Description: House Bill 2 would direct the state to withhold sales and use tax revenue from cities and counties that refuse to enforce state's criminal abortion statutes.
Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?
House Bill 2 amends several sections of Idaho Code to limit existing exceptions to state prohibitions against spending public money on abortion. Specifically, exceptions related to hospitals and Medicaid are brought into compliance with Idaho's criminal abortion statute, which took effect following the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.
Additionally, House Bill 2 repeals and replaces Section 18-8709, Idaho Code, to direct the state to withhold sales and use tax revenue from cities and counties that refuse to enforce state's criminal abortion statutes.
If an offending city or county brings itself into compliance within 180 days of the holdback, its funding will be restored in full. If the local government does not comply, "the withheld monies shall be forfeited and deposited in the general fund by the state tax commission."
Taken together, the changes implemented by House Bill 2 would prevent the use of taxpayer dollars for an issue that is clearly outside of the proper role of government, and the bill also has the potential to reduce local government spending by reducing the taxpayer dollars flowing to cities and counties that flout state law related to abortion.
Current Idaho law prohibits the use of public funds for abortion, including any efforts to "promote" abortion. House Bill 2 amends Section 18-8705, Idaho Code, to declare that "the term 'promote' shall not be interpreted as preventing any classroom discussion on the subject of abortion at a school, college, or university."
It’s common to see legislation written in this manner, where lawmakers try to prohibit an activity but also provide an exception. The problem with House Bill 2 is that this approach not only codifies an exemption, but it also creates a statutory framework for the government to engage in the activity. In this case, House Bill 2 essentially authorizes abortion to be a school subject matter. While that may not be the intent of the bill’s authors or sponsors, the likely result is that the bill will make it easier for government employees to promote and advocate abortion under the guise of "classroom discussion" while being paid with taxpayer dollars.