BOISE, Idaho — A north-central Idaho lawmaker has sparked residency concerns among top state officials because she claimed a homeowner’s exemption in southern Idaho.
The Spokesman-Review (http://bit.ly/2xOB6wB ) reports Ada County records show that Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings of White Bird had a homeowner’s exemption on a house she owned just outside of Boise between 2010 and 2016.
Giddings was elected to the Idaho House to represent Legislative District 7 in November of 2016. State law requires legislative candidates to reside within legislative districts for at least one year prior to the general election.
However, a homeowner exemption is only available for an individual’s primary residence. Giddings received a homeowner’s exemption in Ada County in 2015 and 2016 — the same time she was running for political office in Idaho County.
“I will have to do some more research, but you can’t be claiming a homeowner’s exemption in Ada County and be a qualified elector in Idaho County. On the face, it would seem that you can’t have it both ways,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley.
According to Giddings, she moved to Idaho County prior to Nov. 7, 2015 to help build her new home. That was also around the same time Giddings switched her voter registration from Ada County to Idaho County.
“I have complete documentation showing my compliance with Idaho Code,” she said via email.
Giddings refused to answer questions about whether she would pay back Ada County for her 2015 and 2016 homeowner’s exemptions or resign her legislative seat in north-central Idaho.
Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst says when a person is certifying a particular residence as their primary home when they claim a homeowner’s exemption. Violators could face perjury penalties, as well as being taken off the ballot.
Under the Idaho Constitution, the House is the judge in formal contests of whether a candidate was qualified for election — not the courts.
It’s not unusual for lawmakers to face scrutiny over their primary residence. Earlier this year, Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, received criticism for accepting a higher per diem during the legislative session even though she is married to House Majority Leader Mike Moyle — who lives closer to the Capitol and receives a smaller per diem for legislative travel while in session.
In 2013, Sen. Patti Anne Lodge agreed to live in a mobile home to quell critics accusing her of not living in her legislative district while building a new home.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com