[Morning Briefs] Opponents Snuff Out Cigarette Tax Hike

13 Mar

Like this cigarette butt, a bill that would raise Idaho's low tax on cigarettes is dead in the State House. (photo via Wikipedia)

People are very opportunistic today! A group of Idaho Falls residents are suing the city over an eminent domain case, because somebody was bound to do it somewhere in Idaho sometime. In Blackfoot, parents are looking to recall a school board trustee over alleged violations of board policy. State legislators had an opportunity to raise the state’s cigarette tax, but that one didn’t exactly work out. But hey, sometimes it doesn’t!

  • Four people are in the hospital after a rollover accident near Inkom Monday night. Ryan Yearsley, 20, was driving north at about milepost 54 on I-15 when he swerved to avoid hitting a deer. He then over-corrected, causing his car to roll into the median. Yearsley and his three passengers, two 18 years old and one 19 years old, were ejected from the vehicle. They were all taken by ground to the hospital, two with serious injuries and two with minor injuries.
  • A group of Bonneville County property owners is looking for a restraining order against the city of Idaho Falls. The group, called the Alliance for Property Rights and Fiscal Responsibility, has been threatened with eminent domain from the city for the construction of the 161-kilovolt North Loop Transmission Line. The members said they were given a March 9 deadline to accept the city’s purchase or face condemnation. They also claim that HDR, the engineering firm hired by the city to work on the project, has already suggested alternate routes. [LN8]
  • A group of Blackfoot School District 55 parents isn’t happy about with a member of the school board. The group is looking to get a recall election for Peter Lipovac after he allegedly violated district policy. According to the group, Lipovac traveled to an Indian Education conference in October without pre-approval from the school board, then charged the district $1,075 in reimbursement. While that does seem to violate school board policy, another section specifies the difference between “employees” and “trustees” that excludes the approval language. Furthermore, some Lipovac supporters think the recall action is motivated by his support of a new school on the Fort Hall reservation. Still, the group has enough signatures to petition for the recall. [LN8]
  • The Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 11-5 against a hike in the state’s cigarette tax Monday. The bill would have hiked Idaho’s cigarette tax by $1.25, to $1.83 per pack. The state’s current tax of 57 cents per pack is one of the lowest in the nation. Supporters of the bill said it would mean $400 million in savings in long-term health care for smokers, and would net the state a cool $50 million in taxes. Opponents, however, called the bill “social engineering,” accusing the bill’s backers of hiding their true intentions. [IDR]
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