Idaho Legislature ends session after 74 days

By KATIE TERHUNE

and NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS

Associated Press

The session began on Jan. 6, and was two weeks shorter than last year’s session and only five days longer than the record shortest session in 2004. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, credited the speedy exit to good leadership and goal-setting.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Legislature on Thursday wrapped up a brisk 74-day session in which lawmakers dealt with hundreds of bills and appropriated $2.9 billion.

The session began on Jan. 6, and was two weeks shorter than last year’s session and only five days longer than the record shortest session in 2004.

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, credited the speedy exit to good leadership and goal-setting.

“I think it’s one of the best budgets we’ve put forward — a little more money than we anticipated spending, but we had some issues that we didn’t anticipate,” Cameron said.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis commended his fellow lawmakers as their final day on the floor drew to a close.

Senators also regaled the gallery with the state song and “God Bless America” before adjourning for the last time.

This year the Legislature helped advance the public school budget, passed a tax incentive bill to draw businesses to Idaho, and passed a controversial agriculture security bill, among others.

The House had a lengthy debate Thursday before killing a bill that sought to eliminate a portion of the state Constitution that requires all males between the ages of 14 and 45 to enroll in a state militia.

State Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, said that requirement hadn’t been followed since the 1970s, and unfairly excluded women from the militia.

The bill would have required that the issue be put before voters in the November election. But the proposal drew a slew of opponents, and was defeated by a vote of 33-37.

Opponents worried that a ballot measure would confuse voters and that use of the word militia might impact Second Amendment rights. Some lawmakers also argued that the law should be enforced.

“We do need a militia,” said Rep. Paul Nielsen, R-Mountain Home.

Despite the debate, the House adjourned only one minute later than the Senate — at 6:57 and 6:58 respectively.

The House on Thursday also passed the huge $2.3 billion Medicaid budget with little debate on a 44-26 vote.

The Legislature also honored Legislative Services Director Jeff Youtz for his 36 years of service. Youtz is retiring in September and this was his last legislative session. Both chambers honored him with a resolution.

The House passed the measure unanimously and then gave Youtz a standing ovation.

“Let me say from the speaker’s chair how impressed I’ve been, for my whole career, of the professional way you’ve conducted yourself and that of your staff,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said. “It’s been an honor for me to work with you.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said: “Sometimes he was a mentor, sometimes he was a counselor, and sometimes he was just a great help.”

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee decided not to take any formal action against Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, for her failure to disclose that she had a conflict of interest before voting against a bill.

McMillan voted against HB 510, which would remove a special exemption dating back to 1939 that protects elected officials and legislators from having their wages garnished due to state court rulings. The problem was she did not disclose that she faces numerous court judgments, including at least one in which garnishing of her legislative wages was blocked because of the special exemption. House ethics rules require such disclosures.

A week later, McMillan revealed her conflict of interest and requested an ethics committee investigation into her own actions.

The bill died in the Senate without a hearing.

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