BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho House committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would penalize local government entities in Idaho that refuse to enforce Idaho’s criminal abortion statutes.
House Bill 2, sponsored by Nampa Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, describes the withholding of sales and use tax revenues from local government agencies that issue proclamations, or take similar action, to defy Idaho’s laws on criminal abortion.
The legislation would pertain to Idaho’s Capital, the City of Boise.
Last July, Boise City Council passed a resolution that basically says they won't use city resources to investigate claims or allegations of illegal abortions.
At the time, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said, "…this resolution makes clear that the policy of the City of Boise is that we will not divert public safety resources from taking care of our neighborhoods to investigating claims of abortion."
In a previous committee meeting, Rep. Skaug expressed concerns about the enforcement of Idaho laws.
“If we allow cities to start sliding away from the laws that are felonies in this state, say, 'well, I'm just not going to enforce those,' they're going to be like Portland or Seattle and the anarchy that has started to edge in those cities," Skaug said. "This is just one area. So, that's what I would like to see this apply to other felonies, but we're just zeroing in on this one right now."
Skaug explained that the legislation would give a local government entity 180 days to repeal an action aimed at avoiding enforcement. If that happens, the state tax commission would restore the withheld money.
The bill goes on to say: “If compliance is not certified within one hundred eighty (180) days, the withheld moneys shall be forfeited and deposited in the general fund by the state tax commission.”
KTVB reached out to the City of Boise for comment, a spokesperson said the City is watching the legislation and will follow the process as it continues at the Idaho Statehouse, as they do with many pieces of pending legislation that could impact the city.
Public testimony on Wednesday was brief but included mostly testimony in support of the idea.
Tammy Payne with Right to Life Idaho spoke in favor of the bill.
“We believe that public officials, cities, counties and their governing bodies should be held to the same standards as the general public. We, the people, are required to comply with Idaho's laws. If we fail to comply, we face penalties. So why should elected officials or municipal or municipalities be exempt from following laws? They should not," Payne said.
One person spoke against the legislation, a Boise resident named Cindy.
“I'm urging you to let entities set their own decisions on what is important for their people. Yes, laws have to be followed, but I think that the set that you're looking at is setting how they need to do different things and they do need to prioritize but is working for different areas and that's going to be different for different parts of the state," she said.
Following public testimony, the House State Affairs committee voted to pass the legislation out of committee with a ‘do pass’ recommendation to the full Idaho House.
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