Idaho Supreme court preserves grocery tax

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

Idaho’s 6-percent grocery tax will remain in effect following an Idaho Supreme Court decision.

A battle between the Idaho legislative and executive branches ended in Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s favor this week, with state supreme court justices ruling 4-1 that Otter’s veto of a grocery tax repeal was legal. It also overturned a nearly 40-year-old court precedent governing veto procedure.

The dispute centered around the 10-day window in which the governor must veto a bill once the Idaho Legislature has adjourned. A coalition of 30 lawmakers argued that under a plain reading of the state constitution, that time limit started from the Legislature’s adjournment, making Otter’s veto of the grocery tax repeal illegal. Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, meanwhile, maintained that the time limit started from the moment the bill reached the governor’s desk, a legal definition established in the 1978 Idaho Supreme Court case Cenarrusa v. Andrus.

The upshot of the new ruling is that the Idaho Legislature must submit all legislation to the governor before it adjourns. It also upholds Otter’s veto of the grocery tax repeal. However, as Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review observes, lawmakers could opt to pass another grocery tax repeal during the 2018 legislative session, this time overriding the veto with two-thirds support.

Either way, the decision buys time for Sandpoint city officials, who worried that a repeal of the grocery tax would deal a serious blow to local option tax revenue. According to City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton, the tax, which funds the construction of the new Memorial Field grandstands, is tied to the state sales tax and generates about a third of its revenue from grocery sales.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.