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Otter: Holding CCA accountable, won’t speak to ‘Add the Words,’ backs guns on campus

Here are some more of Gov. Butch Otter’s comments from his address to the Idaho Press Club this morning:

On Corrections Corp. of America: “Yes, I do think that they ought to be held accountable, and I think that we are holding them accountable.” He said, “When we asked the state police to get involved and to review and investigate and tell us exactly what to do, Col. Powell did that. At his suggestion, that’s as far as we’re going to go, that’s as far as he felt we needed to go unless we had new information. I don’t know that we have new information yet.” He said he’s not yet met with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who sent him a letter recommending a criminal investigation. “I will talk to Lawrence and see if he’s got some information that we can share with Col. Powell, and … if we go further with that investigation.” Otter dismissed the “quote unquote confusion” about whether the state was or wasn’t doing a criminal investigation. “The fact that law enforcement was involved in the investigation, and it wasn’t the state auditor, I would have assumed … that it was a criminal investigation.”

Asked if Idaho’s refusal to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is hurting efforts to bring employers to the state, Otter said, “I can’t point to one company that I’ve visited with that said … or even suggested that that was a problem. I don’t know that companies look to the political activity, they don’t say, geez, you’re a really red state and that’s why I’m coming here. What they look at is the public policy, they look at tax policy, they look at predictability. They look at the enthusiasm that communities have for bringing them in.” He said, “As far as the ‘Add the Words,’ I’m not going to speak to that because that was brought up during the lawsuit and we’re in the middle of that lawsuit.” He was referring to the lawsuit challenging Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage.

On guns on campus: Otter said he supports the pending bill to allow guns on Idaho public college campuses under certain circumstances. “I am an advocate and always have been for the 2nd Amendment, and I don’t think people lose their rights under the 2nd Amendment, or the 1st Amendment, when they walk on a college campus.”

Otter said he’s holding off on proposing a transportation funding increase because of lessons he learned from the failed “Students Come First” school reform laws, which voters repealed. “I thought we had a good product with Students Come First, but we were failing in our process to actually find out what the people were concerned about.” Otter said he doesn’t want to land another issue on the ballot. “I don’t want to put another group of legislators at risk because they vote for transportation funding,” he said. “That’s why I think it’s important that we find out what” people want, “whatever is acceptable to them, before we put a package together, and then try to put it into place. So that’s why I’ve elected to take the process that I have. … When we do put a package together, we want a certain amount of certainty that it’s going to pass, and that we’re going to be able to project where we’re going in the future with transportation funding.”

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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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