BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Bond elections that fail won’t be allowed before voters again for a minimum of 11 months under legislation that passed the House on Thursday and is headed for the Senate.
The House voted 48-21 to approve the measure that backers say is needed because taxing districts should only get one shot a year at asking voters to approve bonds.
They contend that repeatedly bringing back bond votes wears down voters until they finally approve.
The purpose of the bill “is to protect voters from aggressive taxing districts that can and do continually run bonds over and over again when they fail at the ballot box,” Republican Rep. Heather Scott said.
Opponents of the bill said taxing districts typically communicate with voters to find out why a bond failed and make changes before trying again. They contend that taxing districts can fine-tune bond votes to more accurately align with what voters want.
The legislation has particular significance for school districts that can run bond elections four times a year. In Idaho, bonds must be approved by a two-thirds super-majority of voters.
Republican Rep. Ryan Kerby spoke against the bill, saying the bond election process worked well in his experience as a school district superintendent where locals participated. He said the state shouldn’t get involved.
“We’re a local-control state except when we’re not local control,” he said. “Big brother just has to go in and fix something that a very small minority of the people are doing.”
Bonds are a financial device taxing districts can use to get money to pay for such projects as building new schools, jails and other large projects. But the bonds must be paid back with interest, and that money typically comes by increasing property taxes.
Many residents have been complaining about increased property taxes because of soaring property values as the state grows, with some saying they can’t afford to remain in their homes.