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Thu., April 14, 2011, 10:14 a.m.

Otter: Session ‘a very successful one’

Gov. Butch Otter, at a press conference on Thursday, declares this year's legislative session
Gov. Butch Otter, at a press conference on Thursday, declares this year's legislative session "a very successful one." (Betsy Russell)

Gov. Butch Otter declared this year's legislative session "a very successful one," saying, "It was a successful legislative session for myself and my administration." He said if he had to give the session a grade, "I'd give em an A, I feel comfortable with that. And that's not a social advancement either."

Otter said his proudest achievement of the session was balancing the state budget without raising taxes; he also cited the school reform legislation, and defended his signing of emergency-clause bills for each of the school reform bills, which he did quietly this week. "If we hadn't had an emergency clause in those, obviously we would have been waiting to see, No. 1, whether or not the referendum got on the ballot, and then 18 months from now, whether or not the referendum passes to repeal those bills," Otter said. "I believe there's sufficient promise, and that's why I worked so hard on them, I think we were very successful in making the kinds of accommodations and adjustments in the legislative package that the Legislature finally accepted. ... But I see no reason to wait. They're great ideas."

The governor also said he signed the 20-week abortion ban bill into law yesterday, also with no announcement or fanfare. "I signed it because I thought it was the right thing to do," he said. "I've been a right-to-life candidate ... all my life." The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks on grounds of fetal pain, except to save the life or physical health of the mother; it includes no exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal deformity or the mental or psychological health of the mother. Otter said he thinks "there's enough safeguards ... that it doesn't infringe, I believe, on Roe v. Wade. Obviously, I have a different analysis of that than the attorney general."

He also said he hasn't yet signed the wolf emergency bill, and is waiting to see what happens in Congress with legislation that would remove the wolf from endangered species protection in Idaho. If that legislation passes - it's part of a major congressional budget bill - Otter said, "We would not need that wolf bill."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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