By Dustin Hurst, of the Idaho Reporter:
The Indian Affairs Council, a panel of state lawmakers and representatives from tribes around Idaho, met Wednesday in the Capitol and agreed to send a message to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on a bill that would affect how cigarette taxes are handled on reservations: go slow.
The council approved a motion calling for the drafting of a letter to committee chairman Dennis Lake and Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney calling for the panel to wait until at least March 7 before giving the measure additional hearings.
The measure, introduced by Denney, a Republican from Midvale, would basically require that tribes match the state cigarette sales tax on reservations. Tribes would be able to acquire rebates of tribal cigarette taxes from the state and the measure would still exempt tribal members from paying the tax if purchasing on reservations.
The bill could counter smuggling efforts if lawmakers decide to hike cigarette taxes during the session, a plan in the works. Tribes are not yet required to hike cigarette taxes if the Legislature does.
Chief Allan of north Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Tribe said that he is saddened Denney didn’t consult him on the measure. ”I’m a little disappointed again that all of our efforts, all of these tribal leaders around the table trying to bridge that gap with the state, we seem to be taking a step backwards again,” said Allan.
Allan’s tribe has not taken a position on the bill because it just caught wind of it. ”I think it’s a little premature for us to discuss this bill,” said Allan. “We are digesting it.”
Representatives from the Nez Perce and Shoshone-Bannock tribes agreed with Allan, saying the proposal is worrisome.