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Idaho House OKs sales tax holdback for sanctuary cities

Representative Bruce Skaug debating
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
A bill from Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) would punish cities or counties that refuse to investigate or prosecute felony crimes in Idaho. The measure passed largely along party lines.

House Republicans signed off on a bill Monday to withhold sales tax revenues from cities and counties that refuse to enforce or investigate felony crimes in Idaho.

The genesis of the bill from Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) focused solely on the state’s abortion ban, though he eventually introduced a new version that applied to all felonies.

“When we pass a felony law, we expect it to be enforced,” Skaug said.

Should local governments choose not to enforce these laws, their share of the state’s sales tax distribution would be withheld. They could recoup that money if they reverse their decision within 180 days.

“This bill is an unfortunate example of the heavy hand of the state going too far,” said House Assistant Minority Leader Lauren Necochea (D-Boise).

As Necochea tried to reference the bill’s origins solely focusing on abortion laws, House Speaker Mike Moyle (R-Star) repeatedly told her to only discuss the bill currently being discussed.

Necochea argued abortions can be mentioned because of their felony status under Idaho law.

Republican and Democratic leaders then held a backroom discussion while pausing debate for about seven minutes. Necochea didn’t mention abortion in the rest of her comments after she returned.

Boise City Council passed a resolution last July ordering police to not prioritize prosecuting or investigating abortion providers beyond what’s required by law.

Skaug said he had not read the resolution, but does not believe Boise is in danger of losing tens of millions of dollars under his proposal.

Two Republicans, Reps. Greg Lanting (R-Twin Falls) and Jack Nelson (R-Jerome) joined Democrats in opposing the measure.

Lanting said his no vote stemmed from the bill not designating the attorney general as the office responsible for determining whether a city or county had violated the provisions of the legislation.

Skaug said that’s who he believes would handle such cases, but no entity is specified in the bill.

State senators will consider the issue next.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!