House GOP members pitch alternatives to popular proposals

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Rep. Bryan Zollinger, a Republican from Idaho Falls, at podium, speaks to reporters to detail legislative proposals a group of Republican lawmakers are urging legislative leaders to give full hearings In Boise, Idaho, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. A group of House Republican lawmakers on Friday said they have drafted alternative proposals in response to the session's most high-profile bills currently being floated through the Idaho Legislature. Describing themselves as "Liberty Legislators," a dozen GOP members stood outside the House chambers and listed their plans for cutting taxes, tackling health care and tightening protections for victims' rights. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) A group of House Republican lawmakers said Friday that they have drafted alternative proposals in response to the most high-profile bills floating through the Idaho Legislature.

Describing themselves as "liberty legislators," a dozen GOP members stood outside the House chambers and listed their plans for cutting taxes, tackling health care and tightening protections for victims' rights.

The move is the latest effort by some conservative GOP members to push back against more traditional methods to get bills passed, which has primarily required getting the blessing from legislative leaders in advance.

Rep. Ron Nate, a Republican from Rexburg, said Friday that he and Rep. Vito Barbieri, a Republican from Dalton Gardens, had helped design a $265 million tax cut plan. The plan includes reducing the personal income tax rate from 7.4 percent to 6.9 percent, slashing the business corporate tax rate from 7.4 percent to 5 percent, and repealing Idaho's sales tax on groceries.

Earlier this week, the Idaho House passed a slightly smaller $200 million tax cut bill endorsed by legislative leadership and Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. That plan includes lowering the state's personal income and corporate tax rates. But on repealing the grocery sales tax, Otter has maintained his position from last year when he vetoed the legislation.

Every GOP House member voted in favor of the $200 million tax cut bill Thursday, including the so-called liberty legislators. However, before voting on the proposal, a handful of Republicans worked with Democrats to block the bill from advancing. They ultimately failed to convince enough Republicans to force amendments on the bill.

"Sometimes you have to vote for what you can get at the time and hope you can get a better option later in committee," Nate said.

Nate's alternative tax cut proposal is scheduled to get an introductory hearing on Monday, he said.

Other House GOP members, who describe themselves as "liberty legislators," said they have alternatives to the recently introduced proposal to strengthen crime victims' rights and to a health care plan designed to reduce the number of Idahoans without medical coverage.

Those alternative proposals do not have introductory hearings scheduled in a House or Senate committee.

"Republican conservatives are tired of top down plans that fail to offer real solutions for the average citizen and hardworking Idaho families," said Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from White Bird.

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