Tax-incentive, payday-loan, other Idaho business bills become law

Gov. Butch Otter has signed a slew of related bills that passed in the 2014 session.

zkyle@idahostatesman.comApril 4, 2014 

Idaho's new payday-lending restrictions would affect businesses such as Cash Store, which has three locations in Boise, including this one at 8170 W. Overland Road.

DAVID STAATS — dstaats@idahostatesman.com

Business lobbyists are pleased with some of the bills that are now Idaho law. However, several of the laws most sought by industry were derailed before reaching Otter's desk by a lack of consensus among Republican leaders - some politically charged issues were put off until after the November election - or because they competed with increased education funding.

NEW LAWS

Reimbursement Incentive Act: Businesses can receive rebates up to 30 percent of their corporate income, sales and payroll taxes if they meet job-creation thresholds - at least 50 new jobs in urban areas and 20 in rural ones. Commerce Department Director Jeff Sayer pushed for this bill to help attract new businesses to the state. Proponents hope the law will lure more businesses to Idaho and create new jobs. Opponents worried that there wouldn't be enough oversight of how the incentives are used.

Payday lending: Under this industry-backed law, payday loans are now capped at 25 percent of the borrower's gross monthly income. Lenders must also provide extended payment plans without charging additional fees for borrowers who miss initial payments.

Wastewater permitting: The state will begin transferring wastewater-quality permitting from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to the state Department of Environmental Quality. The shift will cost $300,000 next year and rise to $2.5 million per year by 2022. Industries said the EPA's regulations were too limiting and the federal agency was inflexible and unresponsive compared with the DEQ.

Film rebate: The Legislature extended the sunset for a program that could give TV and film projects shot in the state up to 20 percent back on expenditures. The program has never been used and has yet to be funded, but advocates sought its renewal because large film shoots can inject millions of dollars into local economies.

Farm security: The controversial ag-gag law prompted by a video of cow abuse at a Magic Valley dairy prohibits secretly taking photos or video on Idaho farms. Opponents said the law would stifle whistleblowers from reporting animal abuse. Proponents said the law was needed to prevent trespassing.

Food stamp staggering: Idaho will issue food stamps on different days in an effort to prevent the overcrowding at grocery stores that typically happens when the benefits are distributed on the first of the month. The state will pay at least $293,000 to implement the new schedule.

EXPECTED TO BE SIGNED

Cloud services: A bill adding definitions to last year's law exempting some online service and products from state sales tax passed despite disagreement on whether the changes would increase the law's fiscal impact on the state. The Idaho Technology Council, which sponsored the bill, said the revisions add no cost. The Idaho Tax Commission said the revisions could cost the state $5 million in tax revenue. Otter has indicated he will sign the bill.

FAILED

Some of these may be revisited next year:

Personal property tax: Bills that could have expanded the personal property tax exemption from $100,000 to $250,000 died in committee.

Corporate income tax: Bills that would have rolled back Idaho's 7.6 percent individual and corporate income tax rates died in committee.

Transportation funding and Medicaid expansion: Both went nowhere, as lawmakers fell in line with Otter's presession statement that the two issues would have to wait. Various industry groups seek more highway funding to preserve safe and efficient commerce on deteriorating state roads and an expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act to reduce financial burdens on hospitals while saving the state money on its catastrophic-care fund.

Design review: A bill that would have stopped cities from including aesthetics in their design reviews of proposed buildings passed in the House but died without a hearing in a Senate committee.

Zach Kyle: 377-6464, @IDS_zachkyle

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