House Joint Resolution 1, which would require a two-thirds majority approval vote on measures involving tax or fee increases, was held in committee Friday at the discretion of the chair, which means the committee will work on amendments rather than send it to the full House for possible amendments.
The resolution, which would amend the Idaho Constitution to reflect the two-thirds approval language, was sponsored by Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens. It was presented to the House State Affairs Committee to mixed reviews.
Although many committee members applauded the idea, the execution caused some to worry.
Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said he was “wrestling” with the language used in the resolution regarding the terms “net increase and revenue.” Luker said the language was pretty broad and “could potentially get us in trouble.”
Luker referred to other states, such as Arizona, which specifically site a “tax increase” instead of “net increase and revenue.” Luker feels that is much more clean-cut.
Some on the committee were concerned that the measure as presented by Vick would require a two-thirds vote to remove a tax or fee exemption. Luker believes the bill is “still fraught with a lot of ambiguity and I just can't vote for it the way it is here.”
Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, testified in support of bill and explained the reasoning for the language in the bill. Hoffman said the language addresses the issue of tax exemptions, and that it was pulled from another state’s constitutional provision.
“It’s not something we just pulled out of the air,” Hoffman said. “We didn’t want to end up in a situation where someone comes along and starts removing sales tax exemptions, for example … and then they can say, ‘well, it’s not really a tax increase. We’re just broadening the base,’ or something like that.”
Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, motioned to send the bill to the amending order to work on a couple things regarding the language, though it wasn’t completely clear after discussion on the motion as to what the changes might be.
Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, said she would like clarity as to the specific things that needed to be amended. Luker then offered a substitute motion to hold the bill in committee at the chair’s discretion.
Crane then withdrew his motion, agreeing with Luker that holding it for a few days would probably be best. “I agree with Rep. Luker,” said Crane. “We probably need to get some heads together and figure this out, so I will withdraw my original motion.”
Note: IdahoReporter.com is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.