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Senate Republicans caucus, then nix further amendments to anti-Occupy bill

Senate Republicans went into an hour-long closed-door caucus today, and when they emerged and the Senate went back into session at nearly 12:30, Democratic Sen. Les Bock of Boise moved to send HB 404, the anti-Occupy Boise bill, back to the Senate's 14th Order for further amendment. Bock said a couple of amendments “got caught in the gears yesterday. … We'd like to have it (up again) … so those amendments can appropriately be considered.” However, the Senate rejected Bock's motion on a voice vote.

Senate Majority Caucus Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell, said the issue was addressed during the GOP caucus. “We did talk about HB 404 and how to proceed on it,” he said. Yesterday, the Senate voted in favor of an amendment from Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, to exempt state colleges and universities from the new camping ban in the bill, saying the University of Idaho accommodates camping for events like summer soccer tournaments and swim meets. But that amendment was found to conflict with a later amendment, proposed by Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, because the Davis amendment replaced whole sections of the bill; it was focused on easing property-seizure requirements in the measure.

That decision left the university amendment without effect, even though a majority of senators had voted for it. Said McGee, “I think there's some question as to whether or not the university, how important that was to them if at all.” It also meant the Senate never voted on a proposed amendment from Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, to remove HB 404's emergency clause. If that clause were removed, the new camping ban - aimed at evicting the Occupy Boise vigil from state property it's now legally occupying across from the Capitol - would take effect July 1, instead of immediately, as the measure is written now.


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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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