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House Bill 347 — Bond election frequency

House Bill 347 — Bond election frequency

Lindsay Atkinson
January 23, 2020

Bill description: HB 347 establishes an 11 month wait period after one proposed bond fails, before taxing districts can approach voters with the same or similar bond.

Rating: +2

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? 

Currently, some taxing districts in Idaho can go before their voters up to four times annually (March, May, August, and November) to ask for permission to go into debt by issuing bonds.. If voters approve, the bonds will increase the property tax assessed within the district and be used to supplement the revenue of taxing districts (e.g., school districts, counties, cities, fire districts, etc.).

HB 347 would prohibit taxing districts from putting the same or a similar request before their voters more than once every 11 months. In the past, after the failure of a bond, some districts have gone to their voters with identical requests three or more times in the same calendar year before the voters finally approved the measure, or the taxing district finally decided to stop running it. 

Allowing districts to repeatedly place the same, or similar, measure before voters multiple times violates the spirit of Article 8, Section 3 of the Idaho Constitution. This article requires that no “county, city, board of education, or school district, or other subdivision of the state, shall incur any indebtedness, or liability, in any manner, or for any purpose … without the assent of two[-]thirds (2/3) of the qualified electors thereof voting at an election to be held for that purpose.” 

To prevent taxing districts from immediately coming back to voters who have just rejected a bond proposal with the same question over and over again upholds the spirit of government accountability to the public, regarding debt.


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

By reducing the frequency of bond questions that go before voters, HB 347 would save taxpayers from election costs. At present, if taxing districts put the same or a similar measure up for a vote four times in a year, it presents a quadrupling of elections costs. The cost is especially significant 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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