A few thoughts on a few, somewhat random, topics...

China trade war exploding. Last week’s high profile breakdown of talks between the U.S. and China is unsettling. On Friday, Pres. Trump imposed sharply higher tariffs on $200 billion in goods imported to the U.S. from China. The losers will be American consumers who will shoulder the cost. Trump hopes that China will bend and put in place some sort of managed trade deal.

I fear the president is focused on “winning” rather than doing what is necessary.  If both countries just end up dividing up markets industry-by-industry, then that is lose-lose. That kind of mercantile thinking does not let either country benefit from the power of each’s comparative advantages. 

What we need is to end bad Chinese behavior. The focus needs to be on two key issues: 1) getting China to knock off industrial espionage targeted at western companies like Micron, and 2) recognizing intellectual property rights of U.S. creators of software, music, movies, etc.

New head of Idaho Realtors brings expertise. David Hensley, Gov. Butch Otter’s former chief of staff, spoke last week to real estate education providers and instructors at an annual workshop held by the Idaho Real Estate Commission. He is the new CEO of the Idaho REALTORS.  His expertise in legislative matters is a huge benefit to the organization, which advocates on behalf of its members located throughout Idaho.  The organization is a major player in Idaho political races.  Hensley’s leadership is a major win for the group.

Meridian mayor’s race likely to be most high-profile municipal race this year. Idaho’s third largest city, Meridian, will likely hold Idaho’s biggest campaign this year. With incumbent Tammy de Weerd is stepping down, multiple candidates are stepping up according to the Idaho Statesman. GOP Representative and House Transportation chair Joe Palmer has just formed a campaign committee. De Weerd’s top aide, Robert Simison, has her backing, and City Council member Anne Roberts is also in the race.

Idaho Falls attorney targets school district land swap. Idaho Falls attorney Joshua Chandler is suing School District 91. Chandler’s target is a land swap between the district and a local developer. Chandler lives nearby and has been a leader in opposing the subdivision that the developer is proposing.

Chandler tells Local News 8: “Our school district has a pattern and practice over years, of avoiding the requirement to put pieces of public lands to public bids, and the way they do that is they characterize it as a land swap.” The school district traded a 25-acre piece for 13.7 acres, plus $263,000.

At issue is Idaho Code § 33-601, which governs property dispositions by a school district. Generally speaking, the method to sell property requires an appraisal and bidding procedure. If Chandler is successful, the impact could be felt statewide in that many Idaho school districts have previously swapped land.

Expanding homeowner exemption could harm owners of lower-priced homes. During the legislative session I wrote of an effort to expand Idaho’s property tax exemption break above the current maximum of $100,000.  I have been provided some interesting data out of Twin Falls County which indicates that a boost might result in a tax shift that would burden owners of lower priced homes.  The data seems to check out and I’ll provide an analysis in the near future.


Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com).  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..