Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Because He Can…

Posted by Adam Graham on February 20, 2007

That’s the Spokesman Review’s explanation for why Governor Otter chose to veto a tax collection bill:

Lawmakers and political observers say Otter was flexing his political muscle to send a message that may have had little to do with the bill: He won’t hesitate to take a stand.

“He has found the veto stamp in the governor’s office and knows how to use it,” said Jim Weatherby, Boise State University political scientist emeritus…

“He has found the veto stamp in the governor’s office and knows how to use it,” said Jim Weatherby, Boise State University political scientist emeritus.

Is that really Governor Otter’s purpose? If so, he’s a notch or two above President Bush (who has only vetoed one bill in 6 years) but what does the Governor say and what is this bill:

The bill, HB 8, would have changed a state law that requires the Tax Commission to send certified letters notifying taxpayers whose property – bank accounts, paychecks or other assets – it is planning to seize for past-due taxes. Because half those certified letters are refused or returned, the Tax Commission wants to switch to first-class mail. That would have saved taxpayers $25,000 a year in postal charges and stopped wasting money on letters that weren’t getting delivered…

Otter cited private property rights in his veto message, and wrote, “Notice in these situations is critical for property owners to defend any rights or interests in their property, and using certified mail provides greater assurance that notice is actually received.”

Asked Monday about the veto, the governor said, “I think the most important thing on that bill was that if we’re going to sell somebody’s property, which may be the biggest investment they ever make, I think we need to go to the extra effort to make sure they realize they’re in deficiency, and that we know that they know.”

The section of law the bill amended deals only with the seizure of “personal property,” such as “stocks, securities, bank accounts” and the like, and not with real estate. It’s in the part of Idaho’s laws that deals with collection of delinquent income taxes, but could also apply to collecting delinquent sales taxes, John said.

So, it appears there are two reason behind this veto:

1) The Governor didn’t full understand what the bill did.
2) A concern for property rights.

The first I think all Idahoans should find a little alarming. However, even though the governor thought this was in regards to real property instead of personal property, I think the point is still valid.

Anytime we’re dealing with a legal procedure, certified mail is a minimal requirement. You can’t serve someone with court papers by first class mail. You shouldn’t be able to empty out their bank account using first class mail either. If you’re getting the letters refused, that’s what we have a County Sheriff for. Governor Otter’s veto, far from being a petulent “because he can” measure protects the due process rights of citizens.

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