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Bill could undo eminent domain case against irrigation district

Sean Ellis
A House committee has approved legislation that could undo the city of Caldwell's eminent domain action against Pioneer Irrigation District. The committee sent the bill to the full House with a "do-pass" recommendation.

BOISE — A bill that could undo the city of Caldwell’s eminent domain action against Pioneer Irrigation District has made it to the House floor.

Members of the House Resources and Conservation Committee voted 14-1 March 11 to send the bill to the full House with a “do-pass” recommendation.

Caldwell is seeking to take a large portion of the irrigation district through the use of eminent domain, but House Bill 571 would be retroactive to June 2012, before that action was filed, and apply to pending cases.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Scott Bedke, the speaker of the House and a Republican rancher from Oakley.

Bedke told his fellow lawmakers that the dispute has cost both sides millions of dollars in legal fees and has dragged on for years.

“There are no saints on either side of this issue,” he said. “There is fault to be found on both sides.”

But the speaker said local government entities cannot be allowed to condemn the property of irrigation districts and then turn around and run them as irrigation districts. That is what the bill prevents, he said.

“This bill is pretty simple,” he said. “One government entity cannot condemn an irrigation district and then turn around and run it like an irrigation district.”



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