[Vision2020] House Rejects Senate Amendments to House Bill 599

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Apr 2 07:27:37 PDT 2008

>From today's (April 2, 2008) Spokesman Review -




Lawmakers stall over business tax break 

House rejects Senate amendments


House Bill 599, Relating to Taxation of Personal Property



Senate Amendment to House Bill 599



BOISE - The fate of a tax break for businesses brought Idaho's over-long
legislative session to a standstill Tuesday, with the House refusing to go
along with the Senate's unanimous remake of a giant tax break into a much
smaller exemption.


The result is that Idaho lawmakers will be in session today, when they had
hoped to adjourn nearly two weeks ago. "I had planned to go home tomorrow
but obviously that plan has changed," state Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post
Falls, said late Tuesday as he left the House chamber.


The Senate had rewritten legislation to phase in a $120 million-a-year tax
break for businesses to transform it into a $15.5 million annual break. By
exempting just the first $75,000 in value from the property tax on business
equipment - rather than repealing the tax entirely - the Senate version
frees 86 percent of Idaho businesses from paying the tax at all, and costs
the state just $15.5 million a year.


State Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, the sponsor of the original tax break
bill, House Bill 599, said $75,000 is "just an arbitrary number. Why isn't
it $1 million?" he asked the House. "Why isn't it $2 million?"


Clark led the House debate against concurring with the Senate amendments,
and his motion carried, 43-25. The House and Senate then each appointed
three members to a conference committee to attempt to work out differences
over the bill; the conference committee, on which Clark will serve, will
meet at 8 a.m. today.


"I think they are as willing as we are to find us a better bill," Clark


But some senators were disappointed. "I frankly think the amendments were
good," said state Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake. "I don't think we can
afford to do what the House proposed, $120 million."


Said state Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint: "I thought the Senate had a good
compromise that moved us toward elimination of the tax, but recognized that
the state couldn't afford to shift that tax in the manner that was proposed
in the original bill."


The Senate amendments to the bill had passed that chamber unanimously, with
strong support from both parties.


Senate Tax Chairman Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told the House Revenue and
Taxation Committee on Tuesday that senators chose the $75,000 figure to
offer businesses relief comparable to the homeowner's exemption from
property tax. The homeowner's exemption is $89,325 now, but it's pegged to
an index of Idaho housing prices, so it's likely to drop in the future, Hill


"I guess we did not want to give the impression to the public as a whole
that we liked business $12,000 more than we liked individuals," Hill told
House members. But he said if the House wanted to raise the exemption to
$100,000, the Senate might not object.


The committee voted 10-6 to recommend that the full House not go along with
the Senate amendments. The panel's five Democrats, including House Assistant
Minority Leader George Sayler, D-Coeur d'Alene, joined GOP Rep. JoAn Wood,
of Rigby, in opposing that recommendation, but it carried.


Backers of the Senate version of the bill said making more changes now could
kill the bill, meaning Idaho businesses won't get any tax break.


Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a
business lobbying group that proposed the original bill, told the House
committee that his group opposes the Senate amendments. He said IACI would
accept the $75,000 cap only if other changes were made too, including
applying the new exemption to utility property like power lines and
declaring all newly acquired business equipment to be exempt from the tax.


Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, said she's "uneasy about how 'creative' this
conference committee might decide to get. It would have been much better to
have concurred in the amendments."


Lawmakers hope to end their 2008 legislative session today. The conference
committee's deliberations "likely will take place in an hour or two in the
morning at the most," House GOP Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly,
told a somewhat skeptical House. "We should have this under control by
afternoon and be able to go home tomorrow."




How they voted 

North Idaho representatives split in the 43-25 House vote to reject Senate
amendments to House Bill 599:


Voting yes: Reps. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake; Phil Hart, R-Athol; Dick
Harwood, R-St. Maries; Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; and Bob Nonini,
R-Coeur d'Alene.


Voting no: Reps. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake; George Eskridge, R-Dover;
Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow; George Sayler, D-Coeur d'Alene; Mary Lou Shepherd,
D-Prichard; and Tom Trail, R-Moscow.




Seeya round town, Moscow.


Tom Hansen

Moscow, Idaho



"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of
others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of

Robert F. Kennedy
(1925-1968, American Attorney General, Senator)


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