Credit: Kyle Pfannenstiel
Tax conformity bill: Rep. Nate speaking against the bill on the House Floor Jan. 24.
As of Friday, January 26, 2018
BOISE A bill to conform to federal definitions of income for state tax purposes for fiscal 2017, H 335, passed the Idaho House in a 64-5-1 vote Jan. 25.
The Idaho Legislature usually aligns state tax code with federal code with similar legislation, but this year the federal code’s provision to allow same-sex married couples to file jointly sparked debate among some legislators.
In floor debate, Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg, held to previous criticisms he expressed that he believes the bill violates the Idaho Constitution by recognizing same-sex marriage.
The Idaho Constitution includes a ban on same-sex marriage, which was overruled in the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision.
Nate called upon state legislators to defend the state constitution. If not, he said the United States of America would become “the united subservients of America.”
“I think our founders intended, with the constitution the way it was written, that we were to be independent nation states bound together by the federal government,” Nate said.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard joined Nate in his calls to defend the constitution, urging legislators to vote against the bill to uphold the state constitution.
“It does not matter which side of this issue you are on. We have sworn an oath to uphold our constitution,” the North Idaho republican said.
The referenced state constitutional provision reads, “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, argued if Nate really held that view point, he should support a constitutional amendment to change that statute.
“If you want to argue it’s about the constitution, then do it. But, don’t hide behind the constitution to be discriminatory,” Erpelding said.
Nate, Scott and three other representatives voted against H 335.
The bill will now move to the Senate.
In addition to allowing same-sex married couples to file jointly, the conformity bill would reduce the threshold for itemizing medical expenses as deductions by 2.5 percent, which is estimated to reduce state revenues by $6.4 million.
– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.