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Eye On Boise

Tue., March 25, 2008, 10:13 a.m.

Democratic senators ‘call’ for revolving door bill

Invoking rules of the Senate, Senate Democrats have called for SB 1302, the “revolving door” bill to require a cooling-off period before government officials could immediately turn to private-sector lobbying, to be pulled from the Senate State Affairs Committee, where it’s sat all session without a hearing. Idaho now has no restrictions on the practice, often called the "revolving door." The rules permit such a “call” in the full Senate, which is now debating a motion from State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, to “excuse” the committee from reporting out the bill. “I think there’s a public cry for the issue to be considered in this legislature,” Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, sponsor of the bill, told the Senate.

McKenzie told the Senate, “The bill has been called for on the 79th day. I don’t think it is appropriate to pull a bill out from committee at this late date. … We have a committee process. … The committee process is important to getting our business done.” But Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, noted, “We are still introducing bills as of today. … I think this bill needs to be heard in the Senate. … I think that this Senate should hear this bill today, and it should be brought up immediately.” Said Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, “It seems to me there is plenty of time to debate certain bills that are of importance to certain people, no matter what the lateness of time is in our session. I think this particular bill is very, very important.” Kelly told the Senate that in the past two years, at least eight people moved directly from either the Legislature or top government positions into private-sector lobbying. She said she receives contacts from constituents every day, asking, “Why isn’t it being voted on this year?”

Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, said, “When you become a committee chairman, part of the power and part of the responsibility of being a committee chairman is to set the agenda.” Said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, “We simply do not have enough time to hear every bill and to vote on every single bill.” Stennett said the bill has been lying in the committee chairman’s drawer since January, and that he hasn’t responded to a written request for a hearing. He said, “I would hate to see us go home for another year without having the opportunity to vote on this bill.”

McKenzie said, “This is not the only bill or resolution in my drawer,” and urged senators to support his motion. Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, told the Senate, “This procedure is perfectly legitimate,” and that he respected the Democrats’ use of the maneuver. However, he opposed it. McKenzie’s motion passed on a party-line vote.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.