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Eye On Boise

Bipartisan bills target NSA data collection, Correctional Industries competing with private sector

Two bipartisan bills were introduced in the House Ways & Means Committee this afternoon, one from Reps. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, and Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, opposing NSA data collection on citizens; and one from Reps. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, and Donna Pence, D-Gooding, seeking to block the state’s Correctional Industries from competing with private businesses.

The Woodings-Malek measure is a non-binding memorial calling on Congress and the president to “immediately discontinue bulk data collection practices that are contrary to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and to instruct our national security agencies to ensure that national security will be achieved without invasive violations of civil liberties.”

The Henderson-Pence bill would block Correctional Industries, which produces everything from license plates to office furniture with inmate labor at Idaho prisons, from selling its wares to non-profit organizations, retailers or wholesalers – all of which are authorized now. Henderson, chairman of the House Business Committee, said two weeks ago, about 20 local printers came to the Statehouse to complain about competition from Correctional Industries. “They have, for instance, six full-time salesmen,” Henderson said, who contact not only government agencies but private entities to market products. “We have no issue with sales being promoted to government.”

But Correctional Industries has much lower costs than other businesses, he said, and can easily undercut private competitors in products like printing. “The purpose … is not to end the industries program, because it has its merits,” Henderson told the committee, “but it has to be limited.” The committee voted unanimously to introduce both bills.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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