by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The House Revenue & Taxation Committee advanced a bill Thursday that would withhold sales and use tax funds from local governments that refuse to enforce the state’s felony crimes.
Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa said House Bill 22 is not meant to target any specific city, but acknowledged that a resolution from the city of Boise deprioritizing investigations into abortions was the start of the discussion.
“This is a law-and-order bill proposal. The genesis of it came about this summer,” Skaug said, when constituents came to him with concerns that inspired House Bill 2, which would specifically penalize local governments for refusing to enforce the state’s criminal abortion laws.
“I had wiser legislators than myself who came to me, some who are sponsors of this bill, and said, ‘Bruce, why don’t you include all felonies?’ Because this could be an issue in other felony areas,” Skaug said.
Cindy Thorngren, president of the Southwest Idaho chapter of the National Organization of Women, compared the legislation to a gag order on local governments, but said she appreciated it does not target organizations like hers for providing citizens with information on how to obtain abortion care in other states.
“It’s fairly generous in that we give [local governments] six months to comply, and then those funds are released by the tax commission,” Skaug said.
The committee confirmed several times that the bill does not affect police or prosecutorial discretion when it comes to investigating or enforcing laws.
“I think it’s unnecessary. We have super strict, very scary penalties on the books for providing abortions,” said Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise. “Did you expect to be discussing abortion in Revenue and Taxation? Are these two things that fit together?”
The committee voted along party lines to advance the bill, sending it to the House floor for a vote. It must also earn approval from the Senate and the governor to become law.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.