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Lake: ‘Fair or not, that’s the intention’

Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, proposed legislation to say that any agricultural operator who prevails in a nuisance lawsuit filed against the operation "shall be entitled to recover the full costs, expenses and attorney's fees incurred," but not providing for the person who sued the farm operation to recover if they're the one who wins the case. The bill, HB 211, was killed in the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon, after testimony against it from the Idaho Association of Counties and the Idaho Trial Lawyers, who said the provision likely violates the Idaho Constitution. Lake told the committee, "Fair or not, that's the intention of the legislation. ... What we're trying to do here is dissuade nuisance claims against someone doing an agriculture operation."

A similar clause earlier had been included in "Right to Farm" legislation, but was pulled out by the sponsors because of the concerns it raised; that bill, HB 210, sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, along with agriculture interests, cleared the House Agricultural Affairs Committee this afternoon and headed for the full House with a recommendation that it "do pass." HB 210 would protect expansions of feedlots or other agricultural operations from all nuisance lawsuits and zoning ordinances and prohibits local governments from limiting them. "Any such ordinance or resolution shall be null and void and shall have no force or effect," the bill states. Denney is a farmer and Moyle and Lake list their occupations as "agribusiness."

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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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