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Eye On Boise

Tue., Feb. 19, 2013, 12:15 p.m.

Game plan shapes up for insurance exchange debate

The chess pieces have kind of been all over the board on the health insurance exchange issue, but now they’re moving into formation and the game plan is becoming more clear: The Senate announced today that it will take up SB 1042, the governor’s state insurance exchange bill, on Thursday morning. The Senate will convene early that day, at 9:30, and won’t break until it’s completed its debate and vote on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said he believes there’s “enough pent-up frustration … with the federal government” that senators will need some time to express it.

Last week, Davis said on Idaho Public TV’s “Idaho Reports” that he hoped to wait for a Senate vote on the exchange bill until a “trailer” bill proposed by 16 House freshmen, requiring additional legislative oversight in the exchange, had passed the House and reached the Senate, so the two could be debated together. However, he said today that that turned out to be too difficult timing-wise; the House bill, HB 179, has been introduced, but is still awaiting its House committee hearing.

“I’ve had several meetings with the speaker on it,” Davis said. “We just wanted to make sure we understood what their process was.” He said, “Should they send us the trailer bill, and frankly I hope they do, I am confident that it will be well-received in our committee and then postured for debate and consideration thereafter.” The measure would go to the Senate Commerce Committee, the same committee that voted 8-1 in favor of SB 1042.

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said HB 179 will have its House committee hearing on Monday. Malek will be gone Thursday and Friday for a work trip to Washington, D.C.; he said he pushed for quicker consideration, but House leaders wanted to allow sufficient time for the freshmen’s bill to be “vetted” before the hearing. “The Senate’s procedure isn’t going to impact our bill,” Malek said. “As long as the governor signs both into law, 1042 and then 179, we’ll be fine.”

He added, “I asked to have it moved up in terms of, can we vote on it now? They said, well, it’s not an emergency situation. Be patient, basically, is what they told me.”

Malek said, “The group that I’m involved with, we’ve made it clear that we’re not going to vote on 1042 until 179 has passed both houses.” He added, “I’ve certainly received a lot of support for what we’ve done. I’m excited to see how it all works out. I really do feel like what we’ve done provides a lot of protection for our constituents throughout the state.”

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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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