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Denney pulls committee chairmanships from Trail, Smith

House Speaker Lawerence Denney has removed two of the most independent-voting committee chairmen in the House: Transportation Chairman Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, and Agriculture Chairman Tom Trail, R-Moscow, as punishment for not voting with leadership on procedural votes, including moves to call bills from committee, to send bills to the amending order, and to return bills to committee. Among those that Smith backed calling out was his own bill on online sales taxes, which Denney unilaterally killed early in the session.

“I don't ask anybody to vote a certain way on any issue, but I do expect them to support other committee chairmen and leadership on procedural issues, and there were several votes this year that they did not support us,” Denney said.

Denney replaced both chairmen with their vice chairs: Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, who is only in his second term, is the new transportation chairman, and Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, a fourth-term lawmaker, is the new agriculture chairman.


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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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