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HCR 38: $250,000 for Ken Ivory-2020

Summary: HCR 38 would require the Federalism Committee to spend up to $250,000 to "pilot technologies" for a county payments study.

ICL's position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Dead

Issue Areas: Public Lands

Official Legislative Site

Reps. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale), Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls) and Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens)  introduced HCR 38 which would attempt to allocate $250,000 for a “pilot program” that would require the Federalism Committee to investigate the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.

The federal PILT program was established as part of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976 to offset the loss of property taxes as a result of federal land ownership. Because the program requires annual appropriations from a dysfunctional Congress, counties have faced challenges from budget shutdowns and delayed funding. As counties have attempted to set their budgets, this creates obvious difficulties and ICL and others have worked to stabilize and support these payments.

Earlier this session, avowed public-land seizure advocate and former Utah Representative Ken Ivory, who retired last year after accepting a $700,000 contract from the committee he chaired, gave a presentation to the Idaho Legislature’s Federalism Committee. He pitched his proprietary software that could “estimate fair and equitable PILT payments.” According to Ivory, federal PILT payments should be based on the maximum “developable” value of the land—as though it had a multi-million $ mansion upon it—and that Idaho could plug in “whatever number it wanted” to maximize potential payments.

On the other hand, a 2018 analysis from the Idaho Association of Counties found that if Idaho counties were to assess property taxes on federal lands at ag and forestland values, we would actually receive $5.5 million less than we’re currently receiving from the federal government.

The other reality is that the Idaho Congressional Delegation has worked hard to advocate for fully-funded and timely PILT payments, and demands from former Utah Rep. Ivory are unlikely to have any effect.

Furthermore, the 2019 Idaho Legislature rejected the Federal Lands Council Bill because of concerns that it would allocate $10,000-$15,000 to advocate for public land seizure.  How is it that a $250,000 bill would be acceptable??

Idahoans cherish the many values our public lands provide, including hunting, fishing, recreation and tourism, especially in rural counties where much of this land is located. We recognize that many counties struggle with the lack of certainty around county payments, which is why we’ve been supporting creative solutions that could stabilize and guarantee payments. We see that as a much more reasonable approach than simply demanding higher payments from the federal government.