Local governments felony enforcement bill passes House
by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would withhold sales tax funding from any local governments that refuse to enforce state felony law.
House Bill 22 was inspired by a Boise city council resolution in summer 2022 that deprioritized use of city resources for investigation and prosecution of abortion providers.
“When we pass a felony law, we expect it to be enforced,” said sponsor Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa.
An earlier version of the bill, HB 2, focused specifically on the state’s criminal abortion ban. Skaug said on the House floor that even though the legislation was inspired by his constituents’ concerns about Boise and abortion, the bill is not designed to target the capital city.
“It’s entirely avoidable if they obey the law,” said Rep. Kenny Wroten, R-Nampa.
When asked whether Boise’s resolution “deprioritizing” abortion enforcement would qualify as a city refusing to enforce a felony law – thus resulting in loss of sales tax revenue – Skaug said he was unsure.
“I’ve not read the resolution, I’ve only heard about it,” Skaug said.
Boise’s sales tax distribution totaled $26,133,488.31 in 2022, according to the state tax commission.
Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, began her debate saying it is not the proper role of city police officers to investigate lost pregnancies, which drew an objection from Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, for straying off the topic of the bill.
Necochea and Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, then argued that budget limits and chronic underfunding from the state already cause local governments to prioritize which crimes to enforce, and they worried that those decisions would result in further revenue cuts under the bill.
Republicans asserted that the legislation is about local governments that outright refuse to enforce a state law, not about prosecutorial discretion or resource prioritization.
“Don’t stretch this bill into something it’s not,” Skaug said.
The bill passed the House 53-13 and now moves to the Senate.
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.