Idaho Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Grocery Sales Tax Bill

Jun 15, 2017

The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on a case that could decide the future of a 6 percent sales tax on groceries.

The Idaho Legislature passed a bill this year removing the tax. They adjourned and went home. Governor Butch Otter vetoed the bill, 11 days after adjournment. And that’s where the controversy started.

Some GOP lawmakers filed suit, arguing the Idaho Constitution says a governor has ten days to veto a bill after adjournment. But in 1978, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled the governor has ten days, starting when he gets the bill.

The lawyer for the lawmakers, Bryan Smith, told today’s Supreme Court the old ruling overrode Idaho’s Constitution.

“People of the state of Idaho know what it means when the constitution of Idaho says the governor shall file his veto with the Secretary of State ten days after adjournment. They know what that means. And people look at that and they know what the court did 39 years ago,” said Smith.

And Smith says that’s inconsistent with what the Idaho Constitution says.

But lawyers on the other side argued the Governor obeyed the 1978 ruling and his veto should stand.

Butch Otter’s attorney, David Hensley, described what would happen if the court decides against the governor.

“Governor Otter will have to contend with an $80 million dollar shortfall during the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2018. Second, the court will be jerking the rug out from the governor, without any notice, and essentially punishing him for relying on a long-standing precedent and in the end that’s just bad public policy,” said Hensley.

Justices will make a final decision on the case in the coming weeks.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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