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Labor chief commits to continuing to fund Human Rights Commission

Idaho Labor Director Roger Madsen says his department is committed to continuing to pick up the funding for the Idaho Human Rights Commission with its various federal funds, though those are becoming increasingly tight. Next year will be the third year of the four-year phaseout of state general funding for the Human Rights Commission; Madsen is proposing to cover the $156,600 in lost state funding next year from his department's administrative fund and the Unemployment Penalties and Interest Fund. "We're definitely going to fund the fourth year, and we'll do everything we can" to continue funding the commission into the future, Madsen said after his budget presentation to lawmakers this morning. "My personal pledge to the staff and the governor's office is we hope the merger continues forever. The work is so important, and the merger has been so successful that I don't anticipate any change."

The Idaho Human Rights Commission administers fair employment laws in Idaho banning discrimination based on race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age or disability. In 2010, Gov. Butch Otter proposed phasing out its state funding; Madsen's department stepped in with the merger plan, and brought the commission under the Department of Labor. "It is vitally important," Madsen said. "We've made a four-year pledge - my personal pledge is forever."

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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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