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Capitol Reflections: 2021 Session Issue 12

By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs
Published in Legislative on  April 23, 2021


“Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success.” Mark Skousen





Income Tax Cuts Advance

BOISE - This week the House passed one of the largest income tax cuts in state history. H380 passed the House on a vote of 57-12 and will now advance to the Senate for consideration. Earlier this year, Governor Little recommended that the state had roughly $600 million in excess revenues and he suggested both ongoing tax cuts and one-time tax relief be provided for Idaho taxpayers. The legislature has taken him up on that recommendation.

H380 cuts the top marginal individual income tax rate from 6.925% to 6.5% and it reduces and compresses the number of income tax brackets retroactively back to January 1 of this year. Currently, Idaho has seven income tax brackets with the top bracket beginning at $7,500 of taxable income. H380 reduces that to only five brackets and reduces the top bracket to $5,000 of taxable income. All other brackets also will see a corresponding reduction in the rate. H380 also reduces the corporate income tax from 6.925% to 6.5%.

H380 provides each taxpayer who filed state income taxes in 2020 a one-time income tax rebate of about 9% of their 2019 income tax liability for that year, or $50 per taxpayer and each dependent, whichever is greater.

Finally, H380 directs that $110 million be transferred from the online sales tax account to the general fund each year. This will help offset the reduction in income taxes to the general fund. The online sales tax account was set up several years ago when Idaho finally capitulated to the growth in online sales and began charging sales tax on those purchases. The account was earmarked to provide tax relief to citizens. The legislature is keeping true to their word and is directing this money towards the income tax reductions.

H380 is a new version of H332 which was introduced earlier this session. That version accomplished primarily the same thing as H380, but the Senate was not fully satisfied with the earlier version and it has languished on the Senate’s amending order for a couple of weeks now. Since H380 incorporates the things that the Senate wanted to tweak, it is expected that the Senate will now approve H380 and it will be signed into law soon. IFBF supports H380.

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Industrial Hemp Bill Signed into Law

BOISE - Last Friday, Governor Little signed H126, the industrial hemp bill. Farm Bureau applauds the efforts of the legislature for passing this legislation and for its final approval of the Governor. This is a topic that our organization has been working on closely with the legislature for the past several years. We are excited that Idaho law will now allow those Idaho farmers and processors that have an interest in growing and processing industrial hemp.

For the details of the bill and what the law will now allow, please see prior articles on this topic posted in previous issues of Capitol Reflections.

A few things to keep in mind on this topic moving forward:

• The bill only legalizes industrial hemp for licensed growers, processors, and researchers. Truckers/haulers do not need a license; however, they will need documentation showing that they are hauling on behalf of licensed individuals.

• In the coming months, the state will be going through the rulemaking process for industrial hemp. ISP will be focusing on the transportation and possession aspects of this topic, while ISDA will focus on the production and processing side.

• ISDA will be consulting with the Governor’s office, ISP, and the agriculture industry in the near future as they develop an Idaho State Hemp Plan that will have to be submitted to USDA for approval.

• ISDA will be hiring a program manager to oversee the state’s program and will coordinate the rulemaking and state plan development.

• Until the rules are in place and the state plan approved, licenses will not be issued.

If there are individuals that are interested in participating in the rulemaking process, please contact the ISDA to receive more information and details.

We are looking forward to the state getting the regulatory framework in place to allow for future growing seasons, as soon as 2022. All these actions mark the start of a new industry and sector in Idaho agriculture. Farm Bureau thanks all the individuals that worked on this issue over the years and have helped achieve this IFBF policy.

 

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Wolf Bill

BOISE - S1211 is the wolf bill for the 2021 legislative session. The bill is a product of collaboration between agricultural groups and sportsmen groups to find consensus on something that could get across the finish line this session to open up some more tools for wolf management for our groups’ members.

The current wolf population count for this year is 1,556 wolves in the state. That is more than ten times higher than the 150 wolves required in the Wolf Management Plan for them to be considered fully recovered. There was also a record take for wolves this last season at 583. This is a 53% increase in what was taken the previous year at 382 wolves. Despite the record take, the total population count did not really change between the two years.

S1211 helps expands the options and opportunities for the management of wolves. One aspect is the bill enables the Wolf Depredation Control Board to contract with non-government entities for more efficient means of removing wolves. The Board can also renew, or transfer control permits in order to ensure successful completion of those permits approved by the Director of Fish and Game. Idaho Fish and Game can also control depredating wolves on wildlife based on the wolf populations and if they exceed recovery goals laid out in the wolf management plan.

The bill provides more tools for sportsmen and producers to see more success in hunting and trapping by opening up methods of take seen with other wild canines in Idaho. Trapping would be opened year-round on private property only under S1211. This is to allow for property owners to protect their property in a timely manner with the method that has proven most effective. You are still required to have a valid wolf tag and proper trapping license from the Department of Fish and Game.

This bill was introduced Monday of this week and was heard in Senate Resource Committee on Tuesday. It passed out of Senate Committee on a party-line vote. On Wednesday the Senate floor took up debate and voted on the bill. The vote was 26-7. Then on Thursday the bill was read across the desk on the House side and was heard in House Resource Committee. Many producers testified to the committee on the losses they are experiencing due to the strong population of wolves and why it is important that we have more management tools at our disposal. S1211 passed out of Committee on a party-line vote. It will most likely be on the House floor at the beginning of next week.

IFBF policy states “We support all methods of year-round wolf control and population management statewide.” IFBF supports S1211.

 

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Initiative Bill Victory

BOISE - On Saturday, April 17 Governor Little signed into law H1110, the Farm Bureau sponsored initiative reform bill. S1110 ensures citizens from across the state will have an opportunity to participate in the important vetting process of qualifying an initiative for the ballot, rather than citizens in just a couple areas of the state.

IFBF policy #136 states “we support requiring all ballot initiatives to collect signatures from 6% of registered voters in each of the 35 legislative districts.” S1110 does just that and became effective the day that Governor Little signed the bill.

Farm Bureau members have nervously watched the devastating effects on agriculture that have occurred due to initiatives that passed in other states when signatures are gathered primarily in urban areas. Without an understanding of agriculture, many well-meaning people can be deceived into signing a petition which will have devastating consequences for agriculture in their state.

S1110 aims to ensure that any initiatives that qualify for the ballot in Idaho are good for all Idahoans and do not pit one group against another. Our founding fathers wisely created a republic, not a direct democracy when our nation was founded. A representative republic is designed to protect the rights of the minority against the whims of the majority. Unfortunately, the Idaho constitution was amended in 1912 to allow for initiatives, which would not have been possible if the constitution was not amended. 24 other states do not allow initiatives in keeping with the Founder’s original concept for our government.

Farm Bureau would like to thank once again the Legislators who shepherded S1110 through the process. Senator Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens), Rep Jim Addis (R-Coeur d’Alene) and Rep Sage Dixon (Ponderay) were all instrumental in securing this important victory for Idaho citizens. We also appreciate Governor Little and his staff for their support in signing S1110. We look forward to working closely with both the Legislature and the Governor’s office to defend S1110 should it be challenged in court by the activists.

 

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