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Committee approves Miss Idaho’s bill, but tries to stop similar ones in future

Post Falls resident Tracey Brown, the reigning Miss Idaho, isn’t sure if she’s the first Miss Idaho to use her post to successfully pitch a bill to a legislative committee. But the 19-year-old had everything lined up Monday: Two legislative sponsors, and two officials from the Idaho Primary Care Association, all speaking in favor of her bill to create a special license plate to benefit breast cancer education and screening. No one spoke against the idea, which is also backed by the American Cancer Society, and the House Transportation Committee voted to send HB 607 to the full House for a vote.

Brown introduced the committee to her mom, Debbie, a breast cancer survivor. “Because my mom did detect her cancer early, she’s here with us today and she’s a five-year survivor,” Brown told the lawmakers. The special license plate features a depiction of a pink ribbon, the symbol for breast cancer awareness, and the statement, “Early detection saves lives.” A portion of proceeds from sales of the special license plate would go to the Idaho Primary Care Association to pay for breast cancer screening for low-income, uninsured women around the state. “I ask that you support this bill,” Brown told lawmakers.

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, was one of the two legislative co-sponsors. After the meeting, a beaming Nonini noted that Brown, a 2004 Post Falls High School grad, is from his legislative district. “Rep. Henderson and I are quite proud,” he said.

Brown said she’s been working on breast cancer awareness for the past five years, ever since her mother was diagnosed. So it was natural to make the issue her focus as Miss Idaho, she said. She was crowned last June.

Her bill was one of three special license plates approved by the same committee on Monday. The other two are HB 605, to benefit historic preservation, and HB 608, to advertise, but not raise money for, the National Rifle Association.

But then the committee turned around and passed HB 609, to prevent any future special license plates from raising money for anything other than state highways. House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, and Senate Transportation Chairman Skip Brandt, R-Kooskia, are co-sponsoring the bill. Brandt said the bill would deal with the “onslaught of special license plates” – Idaho has more than 50.

Rep. Kathy Skippen, R-Emmett, noted that legislation to ban all new special plates failed last year. “I don’t know why we are so dead-set on eliminating something that people in Idaho obviously like,” she said. “I drive down the road and I see special plates all the time.”

After committee members clarified that their vote wouldn’t stop the breast cancer, historic preservation or NRA plates they’d just voted to approve, they voted 10-4 in favor of the no-new-fundraiser-plates bill. If it passes both houses and is signed into law, it would take effect for any plates proposed in 2007 or later.


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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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