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Idaho Republicans eye property taxes, redistricting

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Property tax relief and redistricting will be high on the list of priorities in the 2020 legislative session, Idaho House Republicans say.

House Republican leaders and members of the House GOP Caucus from northern Idaho met Tuesday as part of series of town hall meetings they have been holding across the state this year.

“The property tax issue isn’t going away,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said. “There’s a problem in the fastest-growing parts of the state. Growth isn’t paying for growth, so (the cost of local government) is shifting to people who were originally there.”

The Lewiston Tribune reports that House Majority Leader Mike Moyle said there needs to be a balance between restricting a local government’s ability to provide services with tax money while avoiding property tax increases that could force people to sell their homes.

“I’m hopeful we can work together to find a solution to this,” Moyle said.

Republicans tried earlier this year but failed to pass legislation to add a seventh member to the bipartisan redistricting commission. Critics contend that would lead to gerrymandering.

Bedke says that in the upcoming session, lawmakers would look at increasing the number of legislative districts.

The state currently has the maximum allowed 35 districts. Republicans hold super-majorities in the House and Senate. Increasing the number of districts could bolster Republican super-majorities.

“I think larger districts are bad for our constituents,” Bedke said. He noted that larger districts make it harder for rural communities to elect local representatives.

Adding a seventh member to the redistricting commission or increasing the number of districts requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. The plan would then be presented to Idaho voters who could approve it with a majority vote.

Other likely topics lawmakers said could come up in the 2020 legislative session are restrictions on the citizen initiative process, education and transportation funding.

The Legislature begins meeting in early January.

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