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Senate panel backs bill to designate state amphibian

The Senate State Affairs Committee has voted overwhelmingly in favor of SB 1271, the bill from a Boise 13-year-old to make the Idaho giant salamander the state’s official amphibian; the bill now moves to the full Senate. It needs passage both there and in the House and the governor’s signature to become law. Only Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton opposed the bill. He told young Ilah Hickman, “You’ve done a great job on your presentation, but I want you to understand that I’m the guy that had to say no to the Girl Scouts.” Siddoway opposed the scouts’ bill last year for a sales tax exemption for its annual cookie sale.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said since he’s been in the Senate, the state has designated the huckleberry as the state fruit; the potato as the state vegetable; and the peregrine falcon as the state raptor. “In each instance, there is some substantial uniqueness to our state, as is true with this proposal,” he said. “If we find value in having some of these other state symbols, I think a similar argument can be made in favor of the legislation we have.”

Herpetologist Frank Lundburg told the committee, “Our symbols serve as messengers of what is special to Idaho,” from the mountain bluebird to the Hagerman horse. “All say something special about this place.” He said, “While I think we can state that not everyone cares if there is a state amphibian, many in the country do care and will take note. … A few more people might visit the state. A few more scientists might study” it. “School students will have an opportunity to learn more about Idaho, and I think that is self-evident by what is happening here today.”

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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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