Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said the legislative session has seven weeks down and four more to go. “It’s been a less contentious session than I expected, frankly,” he told the Idaho Press Club today. “I thought the state exchange would take a more prominent role,” he said, that Medicaid expansion would be debated more, and that new Idaho core standards “would have a little more resistance.” Hill said, “I thought there would be a few more litmus tests within our own party. That doesn’t mean it’s over, that doesn’t mean it’s done. But I’ve been very proud of the way the legislators conducted themselves this year.”
Asked how he squares that with the hue and cry from large constituencies in Idaho to address major issues that haven’t been addressed this year, from anti-discrimination protections for gays to transportation funding to Medicaid expansion, both Hill and Bedke said those don’t yet have sufficient support to pass. “There’s not the votes to move those issues, is what that boils down to,” Bedke said.
Hill said on the discrimination issue, there “is kind of a loose coalition of people in both parties, people on both sides of the issue that really want solutions, they want solutions more than just attention,” and they’re working toward some solution to both anti-gay discrimination and religious freedom questions. “Maybe something can come out of it – I don’t know,” he said. “I hope we can find some solutions that can protect all people, showing dignity and respect for those who feel threatened either because of their sexual orientation or because of their religious belief.”
Bedke said, “We don’t do that when we’re yelling at each other, we don’t do that when we’re chanting at each other.… That tactic doesn’t work in any other venue where human beings interrelate.”