Idaho House to vote on bill to strip cities of state funding for refusing to enforce state felonies
Earlier version of the bill targeted cities that declined to enforce Idaho’s criminal abortion ban
Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, speaks to the House State Affairs committee at the Idaho State Capitol building on Jan. 11, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
A bill that is designed to withhold state funding from cities or counties that refuse to investigate or enforce felony state laws is headed for a vote on the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives.
On Thursday, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted along party lines to send House Bill 22 to the floor with a recommendation it passes.
Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, is sponsoring the bill, which is an updated version of Skaug’s earlier bill, House Bill 2, that was designed to withhold state funding from local units of government that declined to investigate or enforce Idaho’s criminal abortion laws.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Skaug said he expanded on the earlier bill to apply to cities that pledge not to enforce any type of state felony law — not just the abortion laws — at the suggestion of some legislative colleagues. If House Bill 22 passes, it would replace House Bill 2 and that bill would not advance, Skaug has said.
If passed into law, House Bill 22 would withhold a city’s share of sales and use tax revenues from a city or county government that refuses to investigate or enforce any felony in Idaho law. Depending on the city, that would mean several millions dollars of state sales and use tax could be withheld from a local unit of government.
If a city or county rescinds or repeals its decision not to investigate or enforce the law within 180 days, the Idaho State Tax Commission would restore the withheld funding. If the city or county did not rescind its decision, the sales and use tax funding would be forfeited and be placed in the state’s general fund.
Bill could affect city of Boise’s resolution that deprioritizes abortion investigations
In July, the city of Boise passed a resolution to deprioritize investigating and the use of police resources relating to state abortion laws, Boise Dev reported in July.
A spokesperson for the city of Boise said local leaders are continuing to monitor bills as the session progresses.
“We watch all potential legislation that may have an impact on Boise’s residents very closely throughout the session, and it is our practice not to speculate on how we might need to adjust or adapt,” director of community engagement Maria Weeg wrote in an email to the Idaho Capital Sun. “We’re anticipating at least two more months of session, and are waiting to see which pieces of legislation ultimately become law.”
Nobody from the city spoke during a public hearing on the bill Thursday, where three members of the public voiced support for the bill.
During the hearing, some Republicans described looting and riots in other cities and said the bill is necessary as a proactive measure to prevent anarchy here in Idaho. Skaug said the bill is necessary to ensure local governments enforce law and order.
“There is no state felony on the books in Idaho now that I am aware of, and probably you either, that we don’t want to have enforced, otherwise we’d have it here this session to change it to a misdemeanor or take it off the books,” Skaug told committee members. “We want the rule of law and we want to back the blue to keep us safe with these felony enforcements.”
Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, said the bill was an example of state overreach that would further constrain cities’ and counties’ abilities to fund their local law enforcement agencies.
“What we’ve done is really limit the scarce resources that cities and counties have,” Necochea said.
She also said the bill was unnecessary because of the felony penalties in Idaho’s criminal abortion law.
“Even if you believe in the near total abortion ban, we don’t need the force of local police officers and detectives showing up on doorsteps and doing pregnancy investigations,” Necochea added.
Skaug and each of the Republicans on the committee voted to advance the bill, while both Democrats, Necochea and Rep. Ned Burns, D-Bellevue, voted against it.
The bill could reach the House floor for a vote as early as next week.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.