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Senate-passed bills went in ‘a hole’

House Speaker Bruce Newcomb has assigned a bill to expand family-planning services to more low-income Idaho women to a House committee that some of the bill’s backers consider a black hole. The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Hayden Lake GOP Rep. Jim Clark, hasn’t met yet this session.

The measure passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Another Senate-passed bill, to set up a Medicaid buy-in program for the disabled, also reportedly is headed to the same panel. Newcomb said he plans to hold the bills in Ways and Means until the final weeks of the session, to ensure there’s money in the state budget to cover their costs.

The subject came up during a contentious Senate debate this morning on Senate President Pro-tem Robert Geddes’ decision to assign the contractor registration bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee, rather than the Commerce Committee. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis moved to override that decision, and the Senate split right down the middle, forcing Lt. Gov. Jim Risch to break the tie – which he did by backing Davis.

During the hour-long debate on that move, Coeur d’Alene Sen. Dick Compton expressed concern about how such things work, and alluded to the fate of the family-planning bill, saying, “What the heck’s wrong with this system when the leadership on that side can hand it off and put it in a hole?”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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