‘Liberty legislators’ unveil counter tax cut, victim rights, healthcare proposals

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Republican ‘liberty legislators’ announcing their proposals at a press conference Friday. Photo by Kyle Pfannenstiel

A group of Idaho House legislators, the “liberty legislators,” held a press conference Friday announcing their counter-legislation to Gov. Butch Otter’s $200 million tax-cut and the Idaho Health Care Plan.

Key tenets of the group’s counter-proposals are a removal of the grocery tax and a five-year lifetime cap for healthy Medicaid recipients.

“The alternative plan we have proposed… would be zero cost to the taxpayers compared to the $100 million cost (of the Idaho Health Care Plan),” said Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls. “It would codify some of the elements of the governor’s executive order, allowing insurance companies to sell plans that are not ACA compliant, allowing people that are in the gap right now to afford cheap plans if they’re healthy.”

The liberty legislators’ announcement comes two days after the House passed HB 463, Otter’s tax cut bill, and after a committee sent the Idaho Health Care Plan to the House floor. It also comes just one legislative day before the deadline for committee bill introduction.

Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, said the group’s tax plan, which they project will cut taxes by $236 million, will be considered for introduction in committee Monday. The agendas for the committee for next week have not yet been released.

Nate, responding to a question about why he and other liberty legislators voted for Otter’s tax bill earlier this week when they had a counter-proposal, he said, “At that time, it wasn’t clear that there were going to be any other plans for tax relief considered in committee.”

He added Rep. Heather Scott made a motion on the floor to amend HB 463 to add a grocery tax repeal.

The group’s proposals are called the Business, Income and Grocery Tax Relief Plan and an insurance reform plan called the Conservative Health Care Plan. The lawmakers are also proposing the Victim Protection Act in response to the legislature considering adopting Marsy’s Law, a bill that grants crime victims certain rights in criminal justice proceedings.

“Conservatives do have options. We have three awesome options,” said Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird. “We want an equal hearing. We want those options to be presented instead of just telling Idahoans that there’s just one thing that we can vote for.”

– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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