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Bill increasing circuit breaker threshold passes Idaho Senate

Sen. Regina M. Bayer (R, Meridian)
Otto Kitsinger
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Sen. Regina M. Bayer (R, Meridian) at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

After a stalemate on competing bills, the Idaho Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed the House of Representatives’ version of an increase to the qualification requirements for the state circuit breaker program.

Idaho’s circuit breaker program reduces property taxes for elderly, widowed or disabled homeowners.

Sen. Regina Bayer, R-Meridian, sponsored House Bill 481 on the Senate floor, saying her previous bill, Senate Bill 1241, seemed to have found “its final resting place” in the House. The House Revenue and Taxation Committee never scheduled a hearing for the bill.

Bayer’s bill would have increased the maximum home value from 125% of a county’s median home value to 200%. The 125% metric was established in House Bill 389 in 2021, and the change from that bill was scheduled to take effect later this year.

The bill passed by the Senate instead created a threshold of 150% of the county’s median home value, or $300,000, whichever is greater.

If the threshold created by House Bill 389 remained in place, the Idaho State Tax Commission estimated 1,758 applicants would be disqualified. Under the bill that passed, that number would be reduced to about 625, Bayer said.

“This does not protect as many citizens as I would have liked to have helped, but as we are so close to the end of the session, I’ll be glad to see this much done,” Bayer said on the Senate floor.

The bill passed unanimously without debate, and now heads to Gov. Brad Little’s desk. Leadership within the Legislature has targeted Friday as the date to adjourn for the year.