Monday, March 11, 2013

House Committee Agrees to Tax Break for Girl Scout Cookies

Posted By on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 11:29 AM

The much-discussed Girl Scout cookie measure passed through the House Revenue and Taxation Committee this morning, as the committee's lawmakers said "yes" to remove Idaho's 6 percent sales tax from a box of Girl Scout cookies.

A $3.75 box of peanut butter patties or thin mints generates 22 cents for Idaho's general fund, which would be reduced by $140,000 each year if the full Legislature wipes out the tax.

"I think this is the main reason most of our audience came here today," said Nampa Republican Rep. Gary Collins, the committee's chair. "Hopefully, these ladies aren't skipping school today."

But a group of young ladies stood before the lawmakers urging their support for House Bill 250.

"I'm 9 years old and this is my first year in Girl Scouts. On my first day, I sold 104 boxes of cookies. I think my goal of selling 500 boxes is high, but it's something I can reach," said Ella Markham, who could barely reach the podium's microphone.

Julie Hart, spokesperson for the Girl Scouts, said that the $3.75 box of cookies included about 97 cents worth of cookies.

"But there is so much else that is inside of that box that you're paying for," said Hart. "Scholarships, programs, responsibility and self-confidence is in there."

Hart told lawmakers that 81 percent of Girl Scouts go on to achieve a bachelor's degree, and as many as 99 percent don't enter the juvenile correction system.

"I don't think, in the mind of any of us, this is a referendum on Girl Scouts," said Blackfoot Republican Rep. Neil Anderson. "It's a question of who gets that 22 cents. It goes into our general fund, the majority of which goes toward education."

But legislators heard from girls and young women champion the scouts.

"This is absolutely the wrong way to deal with tax policy," said Anderson. "But I'm going to support this today."

In the end, the committee voted unanimously to forward HB 250 to the full House with a "do-pass" recommendation.

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