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Eye On Boise

Wed., Feb. 12, 2014, 9:48 a.m.

Senate panel passes guns-on-campus bill on straight party-line vote

The Senate State Affairs Committee has voted 7-2 along party lines, with only the panel’s two Democrats objecting, to approve SB 1254, the guns-on-campus bill, and recommend to the full Senate that it pass. Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said only about a third of those who signed up to testify on the guns on campus bill got to do so. “We’re pushing up against a hard deadline because we have the Lincoln Day presentation,” he said. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, asked that the vote be held off to allow more of those who wanted to testify to do so, including students, law enforcement officials and university officials, but was voted down. Thirteen people testified this morning, six in favor of the bill and seven against. Among all those who signed up to testify, according to sign-in sheets released by the committee, 30 were against, 22 in favor, and six didn't indicate either way.

“This could probably go on for some time,” said Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian. “And I too have learned a lot today. So to that end, I’d like to thank those who came to testify today.” He said he’d still like to hear from people on the issue. “But Mr. Chairman,  as I hear the testimony and try to process what we’re contemplating here, the overwhelming issue for me is that the non-law abiding citizens really just don’t care. The restraints that we have only impact those who are a law-abiding citizen. … I don’t know that this bill or any other bill is perfect. But I think we’re better off with it, if it were in place, than the way it is.” So Fulcher moved to pass the bill, and Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, seconded his motion.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, said she needed more information about the cost concerns that college and university officials brought up, including her local one, CWI President Bert Glandon, who noted that his college has classes being taught in a variety of locations, including leased buildings and high schools. But when the vote was called, she voted in favor.

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said, “This isn’t an easy vote for me. I know for most people in this room, this is what my grandkids call a no-brainer, whichever side you’re on. If it really were a no-brainer, we wouldn’t have so many good people here on opposite sides of the issue. I’m not convinced this bill will always make it safer on our campuses. It depends on the situation.” Hill said based on today’s testimony, the bill would “sacrifice the safety of some for the safety of others,” and said, “If we don’t recognize those things, then we haven’t been listening to one another.” He said the “tie-breaker for me” is his oath of office to support the Constitution. “I love the 2nd Amendment,” he said.

The bill now moves to the full Senate; to become law, it needs passage both there and in the House and the governor’s signature.

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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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