The Idaho Legislature got back on track Friday, with the House moving past Thursday’s logjam over procedural rules to pass a slew of routine bills and advance potential session-ending proposals on taxes and transportation.
Friday’s activity sets up Monday as the key day ahead of a possible Tuesday adjournment. The Legislature had originally hoped to conclude its business for the year Friday.
As expected, a new House income tax cut bill emerged Friday to rival a plan to eliminate the state’s sales tax on grocery food. Those measures will be before House committees and the full House on Monday.
The Senate amended and approved the grocery tax cut this week. The House will face an up-or-down vote on whether to concur with the amended bill; despite rumored widespread support for killing off the food tax, the bill’s fate in the House is uncertain.
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The new tax bill proposes a one-tenth-of-a-percentage-point reduction in the 7.4 percent corporate income tax rate and across all seven personal income tax brackets. It would require Senate approval if passed by the House.
A much heavier lift awaits lawmakers Monday on finding money for transportation. The House on Friday sent over to the Senate the framework of a proposal that would resurrect most of a $300 million road-building plan that the Senate actually rejected on Wednesday. House lawmakers are hoping that a strong show of support from their body might prompt the Senate to reconsider.
Canyon County lawmakers especially are pressing for the measure, with the backing of House leaders and a majority of the House. Reconstruction of Interstate 84 in Canyon County is the biggest single project the road bill would fund.
Canyon County lawmakers said they would spend the weekend enlisting support for the plan from citizens and other stakeholders to help lobby the Senate.
“This is something that is needed to pass not only for Canyon County, but for the entire state and all of the Treasure Valley,” Rep. Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, said Friday.
Discrepancies prompt review of Idaho’s lobbying rules
Officials with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office say they want to review the sunshine laws after finding discrepancies in how lobbying requirements are enforced.
State law currently provides a special lobbyist exemption to employees of a corporation. To take advantage of the exemption, the corporation itself just needs to register as a lobbyist, as well as select an employee to be its designated lobbyist.
However, the system has come under scrutiny after the Secretary of State’s Office found that some companies taking advantage of the exemption weren’t using employees as their designated lobbyists.
Chief Deputy Tim Hurst says the state’s sunshine laws need to be clarified, and his office will consider possible changes over the next few months.
The Associated Press