Rep. Ronald Nate – District 34
Nearing the End of Session and Avoiding Mistakes
All indications point to the legislature wrapping up business in the next few days. Legislative leaders are talking about Sine Die (adjournment) on either Thursday or Saturday. Legislators are packing up their offices and personal belongings–I am also preparing to pack up my little car and head back to District 34.
The House is still doing double sessions on most days to get through the bills on the calendar. But the list of bills is dwindling—today there are 10 bills on the third reading calendar (ready for a vote today) and 18 bills on the second reading calendar (could be moved up for a vote today). Of those 28 bills, only 10 would require Senate action should they pass the House. The end is approaching, but I am staying focused on making sure my votes are well-researched and consistent with my promise to support only Constitutional, economically efficient, and morally sound laws.
A few dangers loom, however. One is a potential Governor veto of one or several bills. If vetoed before the end of session, then it may take some extra time for the legislature to reconsider the bills for a possible override. If vetoed after the session, those bills die–not good. A bill this year, SJR101, will make it so the legislature can reconvene in the event of a post-session veto by the Governor. But it is not law just yet.
Another danger is the tendency for the legislature to fast-track legislation through the Capitol in haste to beat the adjournment gavel. It happens every session, and we end up with unvetted, flawed, and misguided laws. The transportation bill last year is an example. Because of the haste in passing H312 last year, there are several bills this year aimed at fixing its problems–removing the registration fee increase on hybrid vehicles is just one example. There is even talk today about cobbling together a sketchy Medicaid band-aid bill and starting the process to prepare a waiver application. This doesn’t bode well for getting a real, intelligent, solution that works for Idaho.
Please read the rest of this update to see what we’re wrapping up and what concerns are still facing the Idaho legislature in the waning hours of the session.
Honoring Veterans, a Tax Yo-Yo, and Logrolling
An Opportunity to Honor Veterans
Two years ago, we took our family to Washington, D.C. for a vacation. We made it a priority to visit the Arlington National Cemetery. Nobody can leave Arlington without an increased reverence and respect for the sacrifices made by veterans and their families as they have fulfilled their duty to serve and protect our great nation. It would be wonderful if every American could visit Arlington. Impossible as that may be, perhaps we can bring a little of Arlington’s honor and reverence to eastern Idaho.
One of the highlights of the session for me was to support SCR145, a resolution to establish the State of Idaho’s commitment to construct and fund a veterans’ cemetery in eastern Idaho. This will be done through the Idaho Division of Veterans Services. The bill passed the House on March 22nd. It will be amazing to honor our eastern Idaho veterans and to be able to take our children to see what makes our country great–men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces, dedicated to protecting and defending U.S. freedoms.
A Tax Yo-Yo: Taxes Up and Down
As mentioned last week, the Revenue and Taxation Committee considered a bill which would change the definition of what it means to be an “Idaho Retailer” and what it means to “Engage in Business in Idaho.” The bill says any “nexus,” or connection to Idaho by an out-of-state business, makes that business—by definition—an in-state business. A nexus is typically a physical presence (like a building); but the new law would include marketing, advertising, etc., as creating a “nexus,” and thereby establishing tax collecting responsibility by that business.
The bill was pulled back to committee, but a new bill, H633, was introduced in its place. H633 is a “nexus” bill doing all of the above, but now it has an income tax cut attached to it as well. All income tax brackets would see a 0.1 percentage point drop in the income tax rate—the highest bracket dropping from 7.4% to 7.3%.
I still have my concerns about the “nexus” part of the bill. Idaho would have to collect sales tax remittances by out-of-state businesses, it is a confusing standard to determine “nexus,” and it means more sales taxes will be assessed on Idahoans. It will also be difficult for businesses who would then have to collect the taxes—no matter how small—and remit them to Idaho.
This internet tax bill is an expensive, flawed, and clunky way to “help” Idaho business; and it is clearly an unconstitutional bill violating Article I, Section 10, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which says, “No State shall…lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports…”
Logrolling: Do Two Bads Make One Good?
Back to the “nexus bill,” H633. Why would we attach the income tax cut to the nexus internet tax bill? In my field of public choice economics, I teach a concept called “logrolling.” Logrolling is where attaching new parts to a bill, or combining two bills, brings enough support from those on different sides the fence to get a bill passed (despite its negative parts). Thus, several unsavory proposals can “be successful” together. This is not good legislating.
But I say, if an idea is truly good and right for Idaho, then the idea should be able to pass on its own merits and not have to be attached to something else in order to pass. Attaching an income tax cut to an internet tax bill is essentially cutting one tax and increasing another. I suspect the nexus bill would not pass on its own. And the income tax cut may or may not pass on its own.
It’s easy to see why this is done here in the last week of the session. If passed, any single legislator may return to his/her district and claim a victory. (Remember, this is an election year.) One supporting the internet tax, for example, may still claim to be a tax cutter, because the bill included an income tax cut. One supporting the income tax cut may say, “See, I cut taxes” while ignoring their vote also favored the internet tax (in the same bill).
Logrolling leads to bad policy mixes and sets the stage for mis-characterizations and potential dishonesty by politicians vying to keep their seats in Boise. Watch the vote on H633, and then listen to what your legislators say when they report on tax laws when they come home.
Rep. Nate’s Bills-of-Interest Update:
Here are descriptions of the bills I have introduced this session:
HJR 1 – A resolution to amend the Idaho Constitution to protect education assistance to Idaho students. Specifically it makes it so scholarship and grants to students who may wish to use them at any school, including church-affiliated schools, are permissible and constitutional. This bill is in the Chairman’s “drawer” in the House State Affairs Committee. If you think the bill should be heard and voted on, you can express your views to the State Affairs Committee at email@example.com.
H422 and H423 – Along with Rep. Scott (District 1), these two bills to address confusion in Idaho law concerning the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit. The bills would make it so Idahoans could carry concealed weapons without a permit anywhere in Idaho that is not prohibited by state or federal law (like schools, etc.). These bills are in the Ways and Means Committee awaiting a hearing date. S1389 – This is a new permitless carry bill that passed through the Senate and House last week and I am a co-sponsor of the bill. The bill passed the House and is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. You may contact the Governor at .
H420 – A bill to repeal the state’s requirement that all Idaho school districts must administer the SBAC (Common Core) test to their students. It leaves the option open, however, if districts choose the SBAC themselves. Also, students would not be required to take the SBAC for graduation. This bill is in “the drawer” of House Ways and Means Committee awaiting a hearing date. You can contact the Ways and Means Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org .
H421 – A bill to repeal the State Health Insurance Exchange. The state health insurance exchange has been an expensive and frustrating endeavor. It has cost over $70 million to set up, it binds Idaho to all the federal rules, leaving no room for Idaho solutions. And, it has lead to a virtual monopoly in health insurance “choices” for Idaho citizens—only a few insurance companies have been permitted space on the exchange. All the while, Idahoans’ health insurance premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed. This bill is in “the drawer” of the House Ways and Means Committee awaiting a hearing date. You may contact the Ways and Means Committee at email@example.com .
H506 – A bill to restrict and limit the dollar value of gifts given to legislators by lobbyists and other special interest groups. This bill has been introduced into the House Judiciary and Rules Committee, and is being held in “the drawer” by the Committee Chairman. You can contact the House Judiciary Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org .
H516 – A bill requiring abortion providers to give information to women about where and how they can get a free ultrasound prior to an abortion. This bill passed the House 56-13 (1 absent), and is now in the Senate awaiting a floor vote.
S1386 – A bill to ban “dismemberment abortions.” These abortions are horrific, late-term abortions that Planned Parenthood and other providers conduct—sometimes for the purpose of harvesting the unborn baby’s organs. This bill was introduced into the Senate State Affairs Committee and is in “the drawer” awaiting a hearing. You can contact the Senate State Affairs Committee at email@example.com .
S1389 – Mentioned above, this bill establishes permitless carry of concealed weapons in Idaho. It fixes some gaps left in last year’s gun laws about who may concealed carry without a permit. We don’t want convicted felons or mentally unstable people to be able to carry concealed weapons with or without a permit. This bill fixes that. It also establishes that adults over 21 may carry without a permit in cities as well as outside of cities. This bill is now on the Senate floor awaiting a vote before heading over to the House.
Other bills to watch:
H380 – Income tax cut, Grocery Tax Credit
H449 – Girl/Boy Scout Cookie Tax Exemption
H463 – Minimum Wage Limitation
H491 – Non-Consensual Lien Limits
H492 – Staff Attorneys – State Mgmt.
H504 – Public Defense Reform
H513 – Real ID Act Compliance
H555 – Sexting crimes / penalties
H556 – Foster Care Reform
H582 – State Receipt of Federal Lands
H586 – State Consent for Federal Land Purchases
H606 – (New) Urban Renewal Changes Bill
H633 – (New) “Nexus” (Internet sales tax) and Inc. Tax Cut
S1204 – Medicaid Expansion
S1229 – Heavy Trucks on Highways
S1244 – Underground Storage Tanks
S1311 – Hybrid Vehicle Registration Fees
S1338 – County Declaration of Nuisance of Federal Lands
S1339 – Oil and Gas, Wells, Permits
S1342 – Use of Bible in Schools
S1350 – Limited Article V Convention Rules
S1404 – Unborn Infants Dignity Act
SCR145 – Veteran’s Cemetery in Eastern Idaho
SJR101 – Reconsideration of Veto
Stay in Touch!
As always my goals are to best represent District 34’s views and interests, keep my oath to protect and defend the U.S. and State Constitutions, restrain government influence, keep taxes low, and support legislation that is constitutional, economical, and moral. I always appreciate feedback from voters and citizens. As you probably know, citizen input is very important and influential. When you and others contact legislators, they have the power and incentives to protect rights and keep their oaths. Together, we can keep Idaho great and free.
You and your friends can contact your legislators to make your views known by emailing or calling them. To find your representatives’ and senators’ contact information you can go here, http://legislature.idaho.gov/about/idmap2.pdf and here to get the addresses and phone numbers for them: http://legislature.idaho.gov/house/membership.cfm http://legislature.idaho.gov/senate/membership.cfm
Your Own Bill Tracker
Want updates on bills you’re watching this session? Here are the steps to set up your own bill tracker:
- Go to legislature.idaho.gov
- Go to nearly the bottom of the list and click “My Bill Tracker.”
- Follow the instructions to sign up/log in. (You must have an email account and create a password so that updates can be sent to your email on bills you choose to track.)
- Follow the instructions on selecting bills to track and add to your list.
- On your tracking list don’t forget to click “add email notification” so you will receive email updates on the bills you’ve chosen.