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Eye On Boise

Anti-tribal gaming bill killed in committee, 13-4

After two and a half hours of testimony, the House State Affairs Committee today killed a proposal from top GOP leaders in the House and Senate to mount a taxpayer-funded challenge of the voter-approved Indian gaming initiative.

Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Bakes warned that if Idaho’s limited tribal casinos on reservations aren’t shut down, the whole state soon will be taken over by gambling. “The state of Idaho will look like the state of Nevada with slot machines in every grocery store, service station, restaurant, airport,” Bakes told the committee, according to S-R reporter Meghann Cuniff. He added, “Money and corruption follows gambling.”

Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, chairman of the Idaho Council on Indian Affairs, responded, “The implication that all gaming leads to corruption is like saying all politicians are corrupt.” The council, he said, exists to help resolve state-tribal issues. Last month, Jorgenson sent a notice to every legislator asking about upcoming legislation that could impact state-tribal relations so the council could review it at its Jan. 18 meeting. He never heard from the bill’s backers before the meeting. “The intent here is to discuss issues and work collaboratively to resolve issues as opposed to having everybody go on the war path, excuse that expression,” Jorgenson said. “This is not chicken little. The sky is not falling. The sky is not falling. The sky is not falling.”

HCR 35 was sponsored by House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, House Majority Leader Lawerence Denney, Senate President Pro-Tem Robert Geddes, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, and House Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Bert Stevenson. The Indian gaming initiative passed in November of 2002 with 57.8 percent of the vote.

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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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