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Bill introduced to withhold sales tax revenue from cities refusing to enforce any felonies, not just abortion

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A Nampa legislator is widening the scope of proposed legislation to punish cities and counties that decide to stop enforcing felonies in Idaho. 

On Monday, Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, got the nod from the House State Affairs Committee to introduce a bill that would withhold sales tax revenue from any local government that stopped enforcing felony crimes of all types. This comes after Skaug introduced a bill specifically focused on cities that move to defy the state’s abortion ban. He said this effort inspired other legislators to ask him to address crime more broadly. 

“I had wise legislators say, ‘Bruce, why don’t you put all felonies on there?’ That would cover us in the future for any defiance of felony law the state legislature sets up.’ I thought about that, and I think they are right.”

Skaug said in recent years, some cities across the country opted not to enforce criminal felonies, which resulted in “chaos, arson, murder, rioting, and anarchy.” He did not name any specific cities or sets of circumstances in his introduction. He could not be reached for more clarification on his comments by the publication of this story. 

In response to a question from Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, Skaug said there must be a mechanism to trigger the enforcement, proving a city is not enforcing felonies. If a police chief or sheriff is quietly not enforcing a law, not much could be done. Still, he said there likely would be enough evidence for the Idaho Attorney General’s Office to trigger an investigation and the eventual withholding of tax money. 

What about HB2?

Even though this new bill still covers abortions, Skaug said it will not replace his earlier legislation. 

His first piece of legislation, which moved to the House Floor last week, would withhold sales tax funds from any city or county refusing to enforce Idaho’s abortion ban. It appears to be targeted at the City of Boise, which passed a resolution saying it will “deprioritize” investigating abortions after the procedure became illegal in Idaho over the summer. 

The bill was initially scheduled for a floor vote on Friday but House Speaker Mike Moyle, R-Star, pushed it back a week. Skaug said he is reassessing the legislation and making some changes, but it’s unknown what they are at this time. 

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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