INTERVIEW: Representative Ron Nate weighs in on short-term rental debate and grocery tax lawsuit









Photo Courtesy: Representative Ron Nate

Representative Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) has served in the Idaho House of Representatives since 2014. He’s serves on the Idaho Senate Environment, Energy & Technology, Judiciary, Rules & Administration, and Revenue & Taxation committees. He joined Neal Larson on KID Newsradio to talk about House Bill 216, which prevents local governments from banning short-term rentals and the latest short-term controversy in Rexburg, Idaho. 

Listen to the full interview below:



A recently passed legislative bill banning local governments from prohibiting short-term rentals  is becoming a cause for controversy in Rexburg, Idaho.

Idaho House Representative Ron Nate (R-Rexburg) says Rexburg has become the epicenter for what started as a local issue and escalated in the passing a state law.

The city of Rexburg sent out letters to AirB&B homeowners in July 2016 and again in March 2017 threatening criminal charges if they did not take their listings down, according to the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

In the 2017 legislative session, the Idaho Legislature passed House Bill 216 which prevents local governments from banning short-term or vacation rentals, but gives authority to regulate rentals if there is a threat of health, safety or general welfare.

Rexburg City Attorney, Steve Zollinger says the health and safety clause should allow Rexburg to maintain it’s ordinance banning short-term rentals.

“It still allows cities to implement regulations,” Rexburg City Attorney, Steve Zollinger told the Rexburg Standard Journal. “My legal advice is for them to continue with short-term rentals being illegal in low-density neighborhoods. Currently I believe that’s their position,” Zollinger said.

Rep. Nate contends, the ordinance is a violation of property rights and that was not the legislative intent of House Bill 216.
“The sentiment of lawmakers is that people have property rights and they ought to be able to exercise them,” Rep. Nate said. “You know, you ‘re allowed to rent out your house long-term, why shouldn’t you be able to rent it out short-term?”
In a recent Rexburg Planning and Zoning meeting, Rep. Nate said the clause allowing local governments to regulate the short-term rental market in their cities, presumes the short-term rentals are operating and does not intend for cities to use the clause to regulate short-term rentals out of operation.
“We tried to be very careful with the legislation to make sure that the presumption is rentals would be operated, could not be prohibited, but still allowed the local jurisdictions, the ability to pass ordinances for public safety which is perfectly reasonable,” Rep. Nate said during the meeting. “We do it in other areas. We don’t want certain activities happening near schools, ordinances are allowed for that sort of thing.”
Rep. Nate says the presence of short-term rentals also raise property values and provides incentives for both renters and home-owners.
“I teach economics and as an economist I’d like to point out, there are a good system of incentives with short-term rentals,” Rep. Nate said. “If I’m renting out my house, I want my house to be well-maintained, to be safe. If I’m a tenant, a short-term renter, I want to be a good tenant. I want to get good reviews so that the next time I want to go and rent from somewhere that they’re comfortable having me as a short-term tenant. So the incentives are good both ways.”
Idaho Falls has recently passed an ordinance allowing short-term and vacation rentals.
Other cities like St. Anthony have yet to determine how they plan to treat the new Internet market phenomenon.
As for Rexburg, Rep. Nate thinks the issues and concerns voiced in opposition of short-term rentals can be solved neighbor-to-neighbor.
“There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in Rexburg,” Rep. Nate said. “A lot of people are looking for extra ways to make money and that’s great[…]We just need to respect everybody’s property rights too and I think if those that are doing the short-term property rentals and those neighbors can just get together and figure out a reasonable solution, then great.”