Bill Description: House Bill 22 would direct the state to withhold sales and use tax revenue from cities and counties that refuse to investigate or enforce any felony provided for in Idaho Code.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
House Bill 22 would create Section 63-3642, Idaho Code, to direct the state to withhold sales and use tax revenue from any city or county that "issues an ordinance, resolution, executive order, proclamation, or similar official directive refusing to investigate or enforce any felony provided for in Idaho Code."
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 moneys shall be forfeited and deposited in the general fund by the state tax commission."
This bill would eliminate nearly all local discretion when it comes to enforcing state laws involving felonies. It would likely not be used very often if it became law. For it is more typical for local jurisdictions to deprioritize the enforcement of minor offenses (such as simple possession of controlled substances) than to choose not to prosecute more serious felonies.
There are times, however, when local jurisdictions refuse to enforce laws against serious crimes, including violations of criminal abortion statutes. It is also possible that some local jurisdictions might refuse to enforce laws passed to protect minors from certain elective surgeries that sterilize or mutilate them.
To the extent that the enforcement mechanism contained in House Bill 22 would be used to induce local jurisdictions to enforce laws that protect individual rights, it serves a positive purpose.
Unfortunately, the enforcement mechanism in the bill is broadly applied to all felonies found in Idaho statute, including those that violate individual rights and serve no compelling governmental interest. Because of the wide range of state laws House Bill 22 would induce local jurisdictions to enforce, the bill would increase the likelihood of people being prosecuted for violating laws that are obsolete or unjust.
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