Significant tax relief, greater property rights protections highlight accomplishments
From the 2022 Half of the Session
Won Reduction in Top Income Tax Rate
House Bill 436 was the crowning achievement for small business. It provides $600 million in one-time relief for taxpayers and lowered the state’s top income tax rate to 6% from 6.5%.
Defeated State Sales Tax Increase
House Bill 741 would have raised Idaho’s sales tax to the highest in the nation to pay for a reduction in property taxes. NFIB members were having none of it, and their response to an Action Alert sent them by NFIB overwhelmed representatives and senators.
Prevented Unemployment Insurance Tax Increases
House Bill 450 sent small-business owners an even stronger message than HB 436, letting them know their unemployment insurance taxes would not spike on them for the next two years. Employers are the only ones who pay into the UI trust fund from which unemployment benefits are paid out to those in need of them.
Obtained Liability Protection Against Unfair COVID Lawsuits
House Bill 444 extended liability protection against unfair COVID-related lawsuits small-business owners were potential victims of.
From the 2021 Half of the Session
Won Historic Income Tax Relief
NFIB lobbied extensively, every legislative step of the way, for passage of House Bill 380, which:
- reduced the number of brackets to five
- set the top individual and corporate tax bracket to 6.5% retroactive to January 1, 2021
- provided Idahoans with $162.9 million in continuing tax relief
- gave a one-time sales tax/income tax rebate, returning $220 million to Idaho taxpayers.
H380 was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on May 10
Secured Significant Property Tax Relief
Working in concert with other business groups, NFIB succeeded in winning significant property tax relief and curbing local governments’ ability to tax projects. House Bill 389, among other things, increased the homeowner’s exemption to $125,000 and it reduced the amount of tax valuation local governments can take on new construction and annexation, creating a total cap of 8% in any budget year. It also reduced the amount of forgone revenue a taxing district may take for ongoing budget growth but provides a mechanism for expenditures that are considered one-time capital projects. H389 was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on May 12.
Defeated ‘Ban the Box’ Proposal
NFIB helped kill House Bill 196 in its first committee stage. Efforts to prohibit employers from asking job-applicants about any prior criminal history are not unique to Idaho. This has been part of the so-called progressive agenda in states across the nation. In lobbying against this ‘Ban the Box’ bill, so named because of some job applications having a box to check if convicted of a criminal offense, NFIB Idaho argued that study after study has revealed it has the opposite effect of what it intends, especially punishing, not helping, minority job-applicants. S196 never made it past its first committee, Judiciary Rules & Administration.
Won Greater Local Government Accountability
NFIB supported House Bill 73, which established a Committee on Uniform Accounting and Transparency for Local Governmental Entities. “The committee’s primary duty and responsibility will be to cooperatively develop, approve, monitor, and revise, as needed, the uniform accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting system, and manual, for local governmental agencies,” according to the bill’s statement of purpose. H73 was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on March 18.
Supported Improved Signature Verification for Ballot Petitions
NFIB lent its support to House Bill 290, “to ensure the security of absentee voting and the validity of petition signatures by clarifying the requirement that county clerks verify voter signatures in these instances,” according to the bill’s statement of purpose. H290 was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on April 19.
Backed Greater Political Involvement
NFIB also lent its support to Senate Bill 1110, which, according to the bill’s statement of purpose, ensures “signatures are gathered from each of the 35 legislative districts, so every part of Idaho is included in this process.” S1110 was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little on April 17.
From the 2019-2020 session
Won “Rebound Idaho” Small Business and Self-Employed Grants
With strong NFIB backing, Idaho is the only state using federal COVID Funds to reopen the Idaho Economy with grants through “Recover Idaho” given directly to private sector Small Business and Self-employed.
Supported Elimination of Unnecessary Regulations and Red Tape
Governor Little signed Executive Orders to cut two old rules for every new rule and during the emergency, asking all state agencies to cut red tape. NFIB will continue to keep the pressure on for eliminating old, outdated, and unnecessary rules across the board in Idaho.
Won Protections for Businesses in Workers’ Comp and Frivolous Lawsuits
NFIB worked to roll back Supreme Court decisions that put small business at risk. H582 protects businesses from frivolous lawsuits by defining “Willful and reckless misconduct”. S1321 preserves the “Exclusive Remedy” in Workers’ Comp. These bills help maintain Idaho’s business friendly climate.
Increased Health Insurance Access
NFIB supported bills for more insurance options, flexibility, and better access. H275 allows enhanced short-term insurance plans. SB1288 provides out-of-state insurers a license to sell individual, group, accident, and health insurance available in other states, they may now be offered in Idaho if the coverage meets state insurance laws.
Won Streamlined Sales Tax
With support from NFIB, House Bill 259, among other things, streamlines the collection of online sales taxes that reduces compliances headaches.
Curbed Abuse of Urban Renewal Districts
Supported by NFIB and signed into law by the governor, House Bill 217 restricts local governments from using Urban Renewal Districts to finance big projects without a vote of the people.
Stopped Minimum-Wage Bills
Several proposals for raising the state’s minimum-wage rate, such as House Bills 54 and 55, were stopped from advancing after NFIB’s lobbying efforts persuaded lawmakers that a robust economy was already raising wages and that boosting rates only punishes the less skilled and teenagers and young adults from entering the workforce.
From the 2017-2018 session
Won Significant Tax Relief
- House Bill 463 conforms Idaho law to federal law for 2018 and future years; revises the calculation of net operating loss, of net taxable income for corporations; reduces the individual and corporate income tax rates and provides for a child tax credit. NFIB lobbied for this conformity and for simplicity of tax compliance worth $142 million in tax relief to individuals and businesses in the state and a $205 new child tax credit for eligible children.
- H355 conforms Idaho tax code for the tax year 2017 to federal law, with limited provisions specific to Idaho tax law. NFIB encouraged the Idaho legislature to conform to federal tax law to align state and federal provisions, for simplicity and tax compliance.
- H335 cuts unemployment insurance rates cut by reducing the taxable wage rate fund size multiplier from 1.5 to 1.3 and authorizes the Labor Department Director to adjust the taxable wage rates under certain circumstances. Estimated to save employers $120 million over three years, H335 was the first bill of the 2018 session. Fast-tracked for early passage, it was sent to Gov. Butch Otter following unanimous approval by both the House and the Senate. The bill, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018, is projected to save businesses $41 million in this year alone. NFIB State Director Suzanne Budge testified in support of the bill, which is expected to reduce unemployment taxes by 30 percent. The rate change maintains adequate reserves in the UI fund, which has more than $700 million and is on track to be above and beyond what the federal government recommends, starting this year.
- Small businesses will also benefit from a workers’ compensation rate drop due to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Idaho’s workers’ compensation rates will decrease by 3.4 percent effective May 31, and this follows a 5.8 percent decrease on January 1, 2018. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) made filings in five states, including Idaho, for rate reductions due to the new federal tax law. The law reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, prompting NCCI to make the “law only” filing. The federal tax cut affects the profit and contingency provision of the workers’ compensation rate, as well as the tax treatment of underwriting income, the post-tax return on investment, and the post-tax cost of debt capital. NFIB State Director Suzanne Budge serves on an NCCI committee on behalf of small business.
Protected Private Property Rights
- H447 revises which property is subject to civil forfeiture and protects property that does not have a meaningful connection to trafficking crimes. NFIB supported protections of private property in 2017 when the bill was vetoed and again in 2018.
- H658 amends civil, criminal, and hunting laws regarding trespassing on private property to make them more uniform in three key areas: posting requirements, penalties and damage awards, and exceptions to the trespass laws. NFIB has always supported private property as a fundamental constitutional right.
Secured Transparency and Good Government
- H606 amends the Open Meetings Law to including public agencies established by executive order of the governor.
- H611 requires meeting agendas for government entities be posted online if that entity has an online presence and requires that “action items” be labeled on the agenda. NFIB supports more transparency in government including proper public notice of actions that impact citizens and taxpayers.
Increased Health Insurance Access
Senate Bill 1288 provides that foreign insurers licensed to sell individual or group accident and sickness insurance in another state may offer and sell individual or group accident and sickness insurance in Idaho as long as the coverage meets Idaho’s insurance laws. NFIB supports selling across state lines to provide wider access to more affordable insurance plans
Won Loser Pays Rule for Frivolous Lawsuits
With strong backing from NFIB, House Bill 97 restores in state statute the rule of making the losing party who brought a frivolous lawsuit also pay the attorney fees of the defendant. This restoration overrides recently modified Idaho Supreme Court Rules. H97 passed the House 61-8, passed the Senate 34-1, and was signed by Gov. Butch Otter. NFIB is part of Idaho Liability Reform Coalition. A frivolous lawsuit is no small matter for small businesses which often have to consider settling an unfair claim on them in order to avoid paying further attorney costs.
Defeated Minimum-Wage Increase
NFIB reminded legislators of the minimum wage’s central role in serving as an entry-level wage for teens and young adults starting out on their working lives and the damage done to those opportunities when minimum-wage rates are increased. For the small minority of minimum-wage workers not still living at home, increasing the rate lifts no one out of poverty. House Bill 72 would have increased the minimum wage annually from its current $7.25 per hour to $8.75 (7-1-17), $10.50 (7-1-18), $12.00 (7-1-19), and, in 2020, indexes the wage increase thereafter to the Consumer Price Index. The bill did not get a hearing in the House.
Secured Balanced State Budget Without Raising Taxes
Balancing the state budget is every legislature’s No. 1 job in the nation. Doing so without further burdening every state’s top job-creators, small-business owners, is the trick, which, with a constant reminder from NFIB, Idaho’s lawmakers managed to pull off.
Secured Stable Local Government Spending
Cities, counties, and special taxing districts are limited by state law to no more than a 3 percent increase in their budgets every year. House Bill 207 now gives them the flexibility to set a budget less than 3 percent but also allows them the ability to release any forgone balances so they are not added to future budgets, which keeps a rein on government spending and higher property taxes. With the support of NFIB, H207 passed the House 65-4 and passed the Senate 27-8 and was signed by the governor.
From the 2015-2016 session
Ensured State Control of Minimum Wage Rate
NFIB helped pass H463 to ensure state control of the minimum wage rate, keeping cities and counties from creating a patchwork of different wage rates that would be difficult for small business to manage within. NFIB also fought to stop H400, SB1111, SB1334, HB 56 and 57, bills that would have increased Idaho’s minimum above the federal rate.
Championed the Balanced Budget
NFIB led in Idaho to advocate for a balanced budget amendment to constrain the federal government. HCR 18 starts the conversation of demanding the federal government live within its means just like Idaho must.
Reduced Workers’ Compensation Premiums
NFIB supported SB 1145, which reduces the tax on workers’ compensation from 2.5% to 2%. This will provide about $5 million in tax relief over 3 years.
Eliminated the Business Personal Property for 90 Percent of Businesses
NFIB fought for HB-315, which eliminates the tax for 85% of Idaho businesses. It exempts the first $100,000 in personal property tax and individual purchase of $3,000 and creates a simplified process. Most businesses can file every five years rather than annually, providing $20 million in tax relief. NFIB is working to eliminate this unfair tax completely in the next sessions.