House override vote 4-7-21

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The Idaho House has voted 62-7 to override Gov. Brad Little’s veto of HB 214 on the power of the state Tax Commission chairman, far exceeding the two-thirds margin required; the matter now goes to the Senate. 

Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello, the bill’s lead sponsor, told the House the bill is aimed at preserving the balance of power in the Tax Commission as laid out in the Idaho Constitution.

“HB 214 was about accountability and good governance at the state Tax Commission. It still is today,” Manwaring said. “This is an important bill that clarifies … the balance of powers in our state Tax Commission. If you don’t know, our Tax Commission is composed of four commissioners, two from each political party. They have a $46 million budget. They collect tax. ... We need accountability in the tax collection, in their auditing, and in their other program responsibilities.”

He said, “You made the right vote the first time. It’s still right now, and I ask you to join me in overriding this veto. Affirm the operation of the Tax Commission through the control of its members.”

Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, co-sponsor of the bill, said, “We could have the Tax Commission operate like pretty much every other executive agency and have a director that serves at the pleasure of the governor. But that’s not what the people of Idaho want, and we know that’s not what they want because they added to the Constitution of the state of Idaho the structure we have now, with a four-member, independent commission. And what we risk is allowing the … (governor) to take his prerogative of choosing the chairman of that commission as a way of circumventing the independence that that commission is supposed to have from the governor’s office. We have a buffer in the Constitution against excessive partisanship in the implementation of tax policy that is being rendered moot.”

Chaney said the bill was aimed at preventing any governor from using the ability to appoint the chairman “as an end-around to make the Tax Commission operate like every other state agency, in violation of the Constitution.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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