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House, Senate recess for lunch; Senate GOP leadership splits over lottery ticket sales amendment

The House has recessed until 1:30, at which time it’ll go into its amending order; and the Senate has recessed until 3 p.m. The Senate just completed its amending order, the 14thOrder, in which amendments were approved to four bills: HB 259, on school teachers' involuntary leaves of absence; HB 98a on the catastrophic health care program; HB 120 on lottery ticket sales; and HB 206a on facilities funding for charter schools. The charter bill amendment clarifies a detail regarding authorizer fees that charter schools would pay to the state charter commission under the bill.

The amendment to the lottery ticket sales bill was considerably more controversial. Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, debated against it, as did Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls; it was sponsored by Senate State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise. The amendment changes the bill to require cash only for lottery ticket sales from customer-operated machines, but allow credit or debit cards to be used for other purchases. Hill called that “contrary to good public policy,” and told the Senate, “We all face temptations with a credit card in our pocket. … We do not want to be responsible for leading others into temptation.”

McKenzie countered, “There’s two principles here: One limits access to gambling, the other is protecting our people from the consequences of their own choices. That is a principle that I try to avoid – letting people make their own choices, rather than having the government restrict those. And so in this case I tried to narrowly focus the limits that we have before us in order to balance those two principles.” McKenzie prevailed and the amendment was approved; HB 120aa now needs debate and passage in the Senate as amended, and to go back to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments, before it could go to the governor.

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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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