The Idaho Way: Governor signs bad property tax bill ramrodded through Idaho Legislature

·4 min read

By Scott McIntosh, Opinion Editor

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Idaho’s Republican legislators wasted weeks and weeks and weeks on silly legislation while ignoring one of the top concerns among voters: property tax relief.

Scott McIntosh is the Idaho Statesman’s opinion editor.
Scott McIntosh is the Idaho Statesman’s opinion editor.

Had they spent as much time on property tax solutions as they spent on rooting out critical race theory, monument name changes and trying to cancel Powerball because of gun restrictions in Australia, they would have come up with fact-based, research-driven solutions after listening to testimony from tax experts, local officials and others affected by the issue.

Instead, after 18 weeks — 18 weeks! — in session, Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, ramrodded a complex, multifaceted property tax bill through both the House and the Senate in three days at the end of the longest session in Idaho history.

What happens when you rush a complicated bill through the Legislature without considering facts, research, experts or testimony from city and county officials?

You get bad legislation.

That’s something Gov. Brad Little recognized.

“I do have significant concerns with the process leading up to the passage of House Bill 389 as well as its practical implications,” Little wrote in a letter to House Speaker Scott Bedke.

“I have always subscribed to the adage that our taxes need to be fair, simple, competitive, and predictable. When considered against these pillars of tax policy, House Bill 389 falls short. The bill is an aggregate of complex and nuanced changes to Idaho’s property tax code, and I am troubled that this was introduced in the waning days of the longest legislative session in Idaho history.”

So he vetoed it, right?

No. The governor, despite his misgivings and recognition this was bad legislation, signed it into law anyway.

Into the great COVID-19 unknown

Juan Cardenas, 19, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from James Hunt, a clinical pharmacist with Terry Reilly Health Services, at the Community Council of Idaho Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Cardenas and his parents received their first doses at the clinic.
Juan Cardenas, 19, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from James Hunt, a clinical pharmacist with Terry Reilly Health Services, at the Community Council of Idaho Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Cardenas and his parents received their first doses at the clinic.

It seems quaint now to remember when we thought with hope that Idaho would achieve herd immunity to COVID-19 and approach something like an 80% vaccination rate. Sitting at around 40% today and beginning to plateau, our hopes of coming even close to mass vaccination are quickly becoming dashed.

Whether we like it or not, we’re about to find out what a new normal is in Idaho.

This message is for the vaccine-hesitant

Dr. Tommy Ahlquist.
Dr. Tommy Ahlquist.

OK, so Tommy Ahlquist strikes a more optimistic tone when talking about getting more people vaccinated. He notes that about 20% of Idahoans say they won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, and if you’re in that 20%, this message is for you.

Who is indoctrinating whom?

Bob Kustra
Bob Kustra

With all the talk this legislative session about left-wing activist antifa social justice critical race theory indoctrination, Bob Kustra has to wonder, who’s indoctrinating whom in Idaho?

Idaho Senate chaplain reflects on session

Doug Armstrong
Doug Armstrong

Many of you may recognize the name Doug Armstrong, the longtime general manager and president of KTVB who retired a couple of years ago. He since went to seminary school and became the Idaho Senate chaplain this session. “I now describe the average Idaho senator using words like honesty, integrity and thoughtfulness,” he shared with us in a guest opinion this week.

Barriers to affordable homes in Idaho

Hannah Sharp
Hannah Sharp

Rental prices in Idaho are rapidly outpacing wage growth, and the shortage of affordable and available homes is making it difficult for Idahoans across the state to keep up. Idaho renters living on fixed incomes – such as seniors and Idahoans living with disabilities who are unable to work – are more likely to spend a larger share of their income on rent than the population as a whole and are disproportionately impacted by the widening gap between their rent and income. The development manager for the Jesse Tree of Idaho explores the problem and solutions in a guest opinion this week.

Quick-hit survey: What do you think?

An Idaho death row inmate with terminal cancer and heart disease is asking the state to let him die naturally rather than kill him by lethal injection next month. (You can read that full story here.)

Gerald Ross Pizzuto Jr. is scheduled for execution on June 2 for the 1985 beating deaths of Berta Herndon, 58, and her nephew Del Herndon, 37, at a remote Idaho County cabin. His attorneys announced Tuesday that they filed a clemency petition on his behalf to the Idaho Pardons & Parole Commission.

Do you think Pizzuto should be granted clemency? Fill out my quick-hit, one-question survey here.

What you’re saying

Letters To Editor
Letters To Editor

This week, we’ve received letters on voting by mail, ads praising Sen. Mike Crapo, politicizing library trustees in Kootenai County, and the poor treatment of the accuser in the Idaho legislative sexual assault case.

You can read those letters and more by clicking here.

You can submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion by clicking here.

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