Idaho Senators Want To Intervene In Grocery Tax Legal Battle

May 15, 2017

A bipartisan group of Idaho senators wants to intervene in the legal battle surrounding the governor's veto of a bill that would repeal the state's grocery tax.
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Members of the Idaho Senate from the right and the left jointly filed a petition to intervene in the lawsuit over Governor Butch Otter's veto of a bill that would've repealed the state's tax on groceries.

The filing by Republican and Democratic senators doesn't seek to stop the lawsuit. According to the Spokesman Review, it focuses on just a single aspect: an argument the governor's lawyers say he may use regarding whether the bill was even constitutional to begin with. In a footnote to his arguments submitted to the state's Supreme Court, Otter's legal team questions whether the grocery tax bill is in line with Idaho's constitution which says legislation that raises revenue has to start in the House.

To recap, the grocery tax bill started as something completely different. When first proposed in the House, it was a bill related to cutting income tax. It was sent to the Senate which amended it. There, they utterly transformed it into a repeal of the grocery tax. The bill was then sent back to the House which approved it, but it was vetoed by the governor.

Those in the Senate worry if Otter's claim the bill didn't start in the House holds up, it could take away the Senate's authority to amend revenue-raising bills in the future. The senators are asking the high court to allow them to intervene in the case like the governor did, or to be allowed to file a friend of the court brief and participate in oral arguments on the point of the bill’s constitutionality.

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