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House Bill 624 — Commercial property

House Bill 624 — Commercial property

Parrish Miller
February 25, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 624 would create a new government program to facilitate government-approved improvements to commercial real estate. 

Rating: -3

NOTE: House Bill 624 is nearly identical to House Bill 541, introduced earlier this session. The only difference, aside from the bill number, is that this adds the term "generates energy" on line 3 of page 3 of the bill, which is in a subsection dealing with renewable energy production as it relates to the definition of a "qualified improvement." 

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?

House Bill 624 would create Chapter 38, Title 67, Idaho Code, called the "Commercial Property Assessed Capital Expenditure Act."

The intent language argues that it is the proper role of government to "authorize the establishment of a commercial property assessed capital expenditure (C-PACE) program that local governments may voluntarily implement to ensure that free and willing owners of agricultural, commercial, industrial, or multifamily residential properties can obtain low-cost, long-term financing for qualifying improvements."

The program would allow owners of commercial real estate to borrow money from private investors for certain government-preferred improvement projects and have their loan payments added to their property tax bills. 

This is a new government program that expands the scope of government.


Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government? Examples include government ownership or control of any providers of goods or services such as the Land Board’s purchase of a self-storage facility, mandatory emissions testing, or pre-kindergarten. Conversely, does it eliminate a function of government or return a function of government to the private sector?

Myriad banks and credit unions already offer "low-cost, long-term financing" for improvements to commercial real estate — and these loans aren't limited to those improvements that government central planners prefer. 

The C-PACE program is funded (at least in the form proposed here) by essentially the same private investors who fund banks and credit unions. The only difference is the added bloat of government administration. There is no need for a new government program to compete with the private sector. 


Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion, or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

It is bad enough that the program directly competes with the private sector. Even worse, the program, by its structure, rewards improvements deemed consistent with the government's priorities. 

The bill says, "an applicant must demonstrate that the project provides one (1) or more of the following benefits to the public: Energy or water resource conservation; Reduced public health costs or risk; or Reduced public emergency response cost or risk."

These may sound positive, but in defining conservation, the bill says, "where energy or water usage improvements are proposed, … the proposed qualified improvements will result in either more efficient use or conservation of energy or water or the addition of renewable sources of energy or water."

Note the "or" in that statement before "the addition." This program doesn't require "more efficient use or conservation" so long as the project involves more "renewable sources of energy or water." Many "renewable" energy sources are less efficient, but they would still qualify for special financing under this program. 

If one hotel owner wanted to add more parking and another wanted to add a windmill, only one would qualify for this government-administered special financing program. 


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