The Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee has voted to hold an agriculture tax credit bill rather than recommend passage. The same bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
The bill would give a tax credit of up to 30 percent of a business's investment to build a processing plant for Idaho agriculture commodities. The credit would have a $500,000 cap. The credit would benefit new or expanding businesses that add value to raw ag products, like turning milk into cheese or wheat berries into flour.
Some committee members pressed sponsors Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, and Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, on why they limited the credits to agriculture commodities and didn't include industries like mining. Others questioned data Lacey and Pence presented on the bill's economic impact.
Many of those who voted "no" on the bill voted "yes" last year on the House floor, including Reps. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale; Mike Moyle, R-Star; and Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls.
So why the change of heart? Denney says one reason is that he hadn't heard much debate the last time the bill was under consideration.
"When you hear the arguments against it that were made, I think it was convincing that it needs to be a broader credit to include everyone," Denney says. "And a lot of times, we do, in our tax policy, pick winners and losers, and I think that's a bad way to do tax policy."
The Idaho Freedom Foundation claimed credit for the defeat.