Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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At issue in this appeal was a judgment dismissing an action seeking to recover money unlawfully collected by the City of Pocatello from users of the City’s water and sewer systems. In 2005, the city government decided that the City should be able to operate its water and sewer systems at a profit like private utilities. By law, the City was required to charge and collect sufficient fees so that its water and sewer systems “shall be and always remain self-supporting.” Those fees had to be sufficient to pay when due all bonds and interest as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(a) and “to provide for all expenses of operation and maintenance of such works . . . , including reserves therefor,” as required by Idaho Code section 50-1032(b). The City wanted to obtain a profit in excess of the amounts necessary for the water and sewer systems to remain self-supporting. This profit was paid into the general fund. The City instituted a program called "PILOT," which stood for payment in lieu of taxes, under which city-owned water and sewer departments paid "property taxes" to the City as if they were private entities, and the departments then passed this cost on to their customers. The “property taxes” were then paid into the City’s general fund. Plaintiffs sought a refund of the PILOT sums that they had paid. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the imposition of the PILOT was not a compensable taking. The district court appeared to rely upon two grounds for that decision: (1) "Some courts have made that determination on the grounds that money is not 'property' within the meaning of the Takings Clause," and (2) "Other courts ‘have concluded that governmental-imposed obligations to pay money are not the sort of governmental actions subject to a takings analysis.?” The Idaho Supreme Court determined both of these rationales were incorrect, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hill-Vu Mobile Home Pk v. City of Pocatello" on Justia Law

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While employed by Zing LLC, Josue Barrios (“Claimant”) was totally and permanently disabled as a result of an industrial accident when he fell about twelve feet from a ladder and hit his head face first on a concrete floor. He suffered multiple facial fractures, a frontal bone fracture, the loss of sight in his left eye, and a severe traumatic brain injury that caused a major neurocognitive disorder and speech language deficits. This case was an appeal of an Industrial Commission order requiring an employer and its surety to pay the cost of a guardian and a conservator for Barrios. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barrios v. Zing, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal presents a narrow question of law relating to state income tax liability. Zippora Stahl was an Idaho resident who died in 2010. At the time of her death, Stahl owned real property located in Chino, California that had substantially appreciated in value. The Estate made a "1022 Election" following the sale of the Chino property in its 2012 federal income tax return. The Estate also filed an Idaho income tax return for 2012. When it did so, the Estate initially used the same modified carryover basis for the Chino property as it had for its federal income tax return. The Estate computed its state tax liability as $1,029,107, which the Estate paid. The Idaho State Tax Commission processed the Estate’s 2012 Idaho income tax return and determined that the Estate had incorrectly computed a credit for taxes paid to other states. Kathleen Krucker, personal representative of the Estate, appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commission and the district court’s denial of the Estate’s motion for reconsideration. The district court held that the Estate could not use a different figure as the starting point for calculating its Idaho taxable income for 2012 than it reported to the Internal Revenue Service for that year. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Krucker v. Idaho State Tax Commission" on Justia Law

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House Bill No. 67 passed the Idaho State House on February 2, 2017, and it was transmitted to the Senate. The bill was amended twice in the Senate, and it passed the Senate, as amended, on March 22, 2017, and was returned to the House. As amended by the Senate, the bill passed the House on March 27, 2017. The bill exempted from the state sales tax the sale of food, as defined in the bill, sold for human consumption. The Governor vetoed the bill and delivered it to the Secretary of State on April 11, 2017. Because of the veto, the Secretary of State thereafter refused to certify House Bill No. 67 as law. This case was brought in the Idaho Supreme Court’s original action seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the Secretary of State to certify 2017 House Bill No. 67 as law because the Governor did not veto the bill and return it to the Secretary of State within ten days (excluding Sundays) after the legislature adjourned. The Supreme Court overruled Cenarrusa v. Andrus, 582 P.2d 1082 (1978), but held that all parties were misconstruing Article IV, section 10, of the Idaho Constitution, and denied the writ of mandate. View "Nate v. Denney" on Justia Law

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Claimant-appellant Penny Weymiller, a former employee of Lockheed Idaho Technologies (“Lockheed”), appealed the Idaho Industrial Commission’s order that she was not entitled to additional medical care in relation to her bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (“CTS”). The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Commission erred in holding that Weymiller failed to prove her entitlement to additional care because the Court determined the decision was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. “[T]he Commission’s failure to consider palliative care in the form of wrist braces as treatment is contrary to our holding in Rish [v. Home Depot, Inc., 390 P.3d 428 (2017)]. The Commission misapplied the law and there was sufficient uncontradicted evidence to support Weymiller’s claim for replacement braces.” View "Weymiller v. Lockheed Idaho Technologies" on Justia Law

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Chandler’s-Boise, LLC (“Chandlers”), challenges a district court’s grant of summary judgment upholding the Idaho State Tax Commission’s (the “Commission”) deficiency determination. Chandlers owned and operated a restaurant in downtown Boise, Idaho. The Commission, through its Sales, Use, and Miscellaneous Tax Audit Bureau (the “Bureau”), conducted a comprehensive sales audit of Chandlers for the period of May 1, 2007, through May 31, 2010 (the “Audit Period”), to determine sales tax law compliance. After its audit, the Bureau found errors in sales, fixed asset additions, ordinary purchases, and meals given to employees and guests. The only error relevant to this appeal was Chandlers’ failure to pay sales tax on automatically added gratuities that were added to banquet meals, room service meals, and restaurant dining services for groups having six or more persons (the “Charges”). The bills that Chandlers gave its customers during the Audit Period did not contain a written statement indicating that the Charges could be declined as required by the Pre-2011 Rule. Chandlers did not retain the Charges in question; rather, the employees involved in preparing or providing the meals, including the server, busser, and bartender, kept the Charges. The Bureau issued a Notice of Deficiency Determination to Chandlers wherein it determined that Chandlers owed $91,243 for sales and use tax plus penalty and interest. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in rejecting Chandlers’ arguments with respect to non-payment of the Charges, and affirmed that court’s judgment. View "Chandlers-Boise v. Idaho Tax Commission" on Justia Law

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The Bingham County District Court affirmed a ruling by the Idaho Department of Water Resources denying the City of Blackfoot’s (City) application for a water right to be offset by mitigation through another water right. The district court ruled that the Department was correct in ruling that latter right could not be used for groundwater recharge without an approved transfer application and could not be used as mitigation for former right until such transfer was approved. The City appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Blackfoot v. Spackman" on Justia Law

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This appeal originated from a claim for attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-117. The district court held that Hauser Lake Rod and Gun Club, Inc. was not entitled to attorney fees under section 12-117 because, even though it had prevailed against the City of Hauser in a code violation dispute, the administrative tribunal that reviewed the dispute was staffed with both County and City officials. According to the district court, section 12-117’s definition of “political subdivision” does not include administrative review tribunals staffed with officials from multiple governmental entities. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erroneously interpreted Idaho Code section 12-117 by concluding the Joint Board was not a “political subdivision:” the decision of the Board of County Commissioners was the act of a political subdivision. The statutory definition of a political subdivision expressly included counties. "As with any corporate body, a county may only act through its human agents. Under Idaho law, those agents are the Board because a county’s 'powers can only be exercised by the board of county commissioners, or by agents and officers acting under their authority, or authority of law.'" View "Hauser Lake Rod & Gun Club v. City of Hauser" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (“Doe”) appealed the magistrate court’s judgment granting the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (“IDHW”) petition to terminate her parental rights. Doe claimed that the magistrate court erred by: (1) terminating her parental rights notwithstanding its finding that her mental health issues made it impossible for her to comply with the case plan; and (2) considering evidence outside of the record during the termination trial. Five permanency hearings were held between January 6, 2015 and December 15, 2015. Prior to the first permanency hearing, the Guardian ad litem again reported that while the Children were progressing, Doe was failing to comply with her case plan. Accordingly, it again recommended that the magistrate court move forward with the termination of Doe’s parental rights. IDHW’s report was substantially similar to its previous report; that is, Doe had continued her noncompliance with the case plan. Finding no reversible error in the magistrate court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed termination. View "Health & Welfare v. Jane Doe (2016-47)" on Justia Law

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Claimant-appellant Jimmy Christy, Jr. appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission that found him ineligible for unemployment benefits based upon a willful underreporting of earnings to the Idaho Department of Labor. The appeals examiner heard testimony during a hearing, including Christy’s testimony that despite attending high school, he had problems with numbers and did not read well. The Industrial Commission found that Christy’s explanations resolved only part of the discrepancies revealed by a cross-match audit. The Industrial Commission entered its decision finding that Christy had willfully misstated material facts in his weekly earnings reports to IDOL and found him ineligible for unemployment benefits for each of the weeks that earnings were willfully misrepresented. The Industrial Commission also imposed civil penalties and interest. Christy filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Finding no reversible error in the Industrial Commission's decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Christy v. Grasmick Produce" on Justia Law