Idaho House overrides Gov. Little’s veto of property tax bill
Vetoed bill heads next to the Idaho Senate as late session property tax showdown looms
Idaho Gov. Brad Little gives his State of the State speech in the House chambers of the State Capitol building on Jan. 9, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
The Idaho House of Representatives voted Tuesday to override Gov. Brad Little’s veto of a property tax bill, setting up a late-session showdown between the two chambers of the Idaho Legislature and Little.
During its morning floor session, the Idaho House also voted to reject the Senate’s new property tax counterproposal, which killed the Senate’s attempt to answer Little’s veto.
It all started on Monday, when Little vetoed House Bill 292 after saying he opposed a section of the bill that removed the March election date that school districts use for bond on levy elections. Little also said House Bill 292 jeopardized transportation funding.
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On Tuesday afternoon, the Idaho House responded by voting 58-12 to override Little’s veto, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to successfully override a gubernatorial veto.
“This was good legislation when we started, when we had overwhelming support,” Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, told legislators as they prepared to vote to override the veto. “It’s still good legislation today. I would hope that you could support me in helping to override so we can get this particular legislation passed and tax relief to the people.”
Next up, House Bill 292 heads back to the Idaho Senate for a possible override. It would take two-thirds of the senators present to override the veto. If all 35 senators are present for a floor vote, it would take 24 votes to override Little’s veto. The Senate originally voted 32-3 to pass House Bill 292 on March 20.
If the Senate votes to override the bill, it will become law.
Idaho House pushes to keep vetoed property tax bill alive
Throughout the day Tuesday, Republicans in the Idaho House made it clear that they hadn’t given up on House Bill 292.
“I urge us to have unity as a body and to stand up for what we passed before and to follow through on the mandate that we received from our constituents and the people of Idaho,” Rep. David Cannon, R-Blackfoot, said on the House floor.
The House also introduced and passed a new bill, House Bill 376, that was described as a “trailer bill” to House Bill 292. The new bill was designed to address Little’s concerns over transportation bonding and funding by specifying a set amount of funding is continuously appropriated for the Transportation Expansion and Congestion Mitigation fund. The new trailer bill also is intended to address Little’s concerns about shifting the priorities for sales tax revenues. The bill does not address Little’s concern about removing the March election date for school districts. House Bill 376 is called a trailer bill because it follows behind House Bill 292.
Earlier Tuesday, the House voted to reject a new property tax bill that the Idaho Senate had put forward Monday: House Bill 198a. The House voted 59-11 to reject the Senate amendments to House Bill 198a. On Monday, Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise, took House Bill 198 and replaced it with a totally different bill that he referred to as a “clean” property tax bill that Little had vetoed.
With the House rejecting the Senate amendments to the property tax bill, House Bill 198a is now dead for the session.
A moment before the vote, Cannon stood on the House floor and made it clear how House Republicans felt about the Senate gutting House Bill 198a. Cannon referred to the Senate’s changes as “hostile amendments” and called the move an attempt to sidestep the Idaho Constitution.
“We are the House of Representatives,” Cannon said. “We have a voice. We are not here to be subservient to the body across the rotunda and we are not here to be subservient to (Little).”
Tuesday was the 79th day of the 2023 legislative session, which Republican leaders had originally hoped to wrap up March 24. However, the public school budgets and Medicaid budget have yet to pass both chambers of the Idaho Legislature. Legislators cannot adjourn for the year until they set a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
The property tax showdown represents a new obstacle to adjourning. Property tax reductions were one of the top priorities Idahoans identified in a recent Boise State public policy survey. Little called for property tax reductions in his Jan. 9 State of the State address and reiterated his support for property tax reductions in a letter written to legislators Monday to accompany his veto.
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