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House votes 66-3 for bill to restrict state endowment business investments

The House has voted 66-3 in favor of HB 495, legislation co-sponsored by Reps. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, and Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, to bar the state endowment from owning businesses as part of its assets; the endowment benefits public schools. "Two years ago the Land Board bought a self-storage unit," Vander Woude told the House. "Their goal was to seek out and purchase the most profitable businesses so that they might get a better return for the beneficiaries. This creates an unfair advantage for all small businesses that might get into the same business that the state's getting into." He said, "I question whether this is the proper role of government, and I hope you will stand with me and say no, the government should not be in competition with the private sector."

Burgoyne said, "The issue here is how far into the marketplace should the state of Idaho go, with respect to the endowments. The principle behind this bill is the state of Idaho should not go directly into the marketplace as a retailer or business owner."

The Idaho Constitution requires the state endowment to be managed for the maximum long-term returns for the beneficiaries, the largest of which is the state's public schools. Vander Woude said the bill wouldn't restrict the state from owning property or buildings. "They just can't own the business that is in the buildings, so to speak," he said. The only dissenting votes came from three Republicans: Reps. Maxine Bell of Jerome, Max Black of Boise and Bert Stevenson of Rupert. The bill now moves to a Senate committee.

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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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