The House on Thursday defeated legislation from Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., to continue timber payments to rural counties for four years – legislation that promised a sorely needed reprieve to rural Idaho counties and school districts, but that drew ire from House Republicans for paying the bill by charging oil companies for royalties they should have paid but didn’t because of a government error on drilling leases in the late 1990s. Among those voting against the bill was 1st District Rep. Bill Sali, whose district includes the North Idaho communities hardest hit by the lost funds, which have been coming to them under the so-called Craig-Wyden legislation and then under short-term extensions, to make up for reduced payments from logging on federal forest lands. “The people of Idaho sent Bill Sali to Washington to represent their interests,” said John Foster, spokesman for Sali’s Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick. “With one vote, he proved that he cares more about oil companies than he does about Idaho schoolchildren and local governments.” I requested Sali’s comments about the vote three hours ago and am still awaiting them; will post them when they arrive.
Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.