TWIN FALLS — Gubernatorial hopeful Lt. Gov Brad Little stopped by the Times-News office Thursday night to discuss his vision for Idaho if elected. Here’s where the Republican candidate falls on some of the more divisive issues of the election cycle.
Little has not taken a public stance on Prop 2, the ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. He’s chosen to remain neutral for a reason, he told the Times-News.
“I think as governor, not taking a position on it actually puts me in a better position to then negotiate the right kind of implementation with the legislature,” Little said.
If Prop 2 is passed, Little said, he will implement Medicaid expansion.
“I haven’t taken a position on it, but I’m not in the camp that says I’ll support a repeal after the people have spoken on it,” he said.
Local option sales tax
Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, has said that he is prepared to carry a bill in the next legislative session that would let non-resort cities and counties introduce a local option sales tax. These temporary taxes are voted on by the people and, if implemented, go toward funding specific community projects.
Little said he isn’t opposed to the idea but has concerns about the unintended consequences of such taxes — for example, he said, he worries that if Twin Falls chooses to implement an additional tax, car dealerships could move to Jerome.
“I think it ought to be regional and I think it ought to minimize the fringe effect,” Little said. “I’m not categorically opposed...but I think there’s a smart way to do it.”
Politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan, have suggested marijuana decriminalization as one way to alleviate overcrowding in Idaho’s jails and prisons.
“Not me,” Little said.
Little did say that he might be open to considering using some forms of marijuana in extremely limited medical cases.
Grocery tax repeal
One of the issues on which Otter and Little have most notably disagreed is Otter’s decision in 2017 to veto a bill that would have repealed Idaho’s 6 percent grocery tax. Little supported the bill.
In recent talks with legislative leaders in support of a grocery tax repeal, Little said Thursday, he has learned that the SNAP definition is not uniform.
“If we do this, we need to make sure we don’t create a cottage industry of lobbyists and lawyers who are trying to define what food is,” Little said.
His support for such a bill would also hinge on how it affects the state’s budget.
“I wouldn’t implement it if it disrupts our commitment to the fifth year of the task force,” Little said, referencing the state’s five-year plan to boost teacher pay.
Faith healing, a perennial issue in the Legislature, didn’t receive much attention from lawmakers in the 2018 session, but remains a point of controversy. A bill to make parents civilly liable when their children die or suffer permanent injury because of a lack of treatment died in the Senate in 2017.
Little said rather than implementing a “significant law change,” which he worries “will maybe drive underground some of that behavior,” he would like to see more medical and educational resources made available locally to faith-healing families.
“I would rather use the carrot than the stick in that,” Little said.