When the House voted unanimously – 70-0 – in favor of an obscure bill this morning regarding testamentary appointment of guardians of minors, House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, joked that he wanted to “record this moment.” Such unanimity is rare in the House. It happened again on the next bill, but subsequent bills, including the Senate-passed budget bills for Idaho Public TV and the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, drew more dissenting votes. SB 1397, the public TV budget, passed on a 46-24 vote; the Hispanic commission budget passed on a 45-25 vote, though neither bill drew debate. House members had a lively debate on SB 1400, the budget bill for mental health services, psychiatric hospitalization and substance abuse treatment and prevention at the Department of Health & Welfare.
Those objecting, including House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said the Otter Administration isn’t hearing the cries of those who are suffering due to shortfalls in the state’s mental health system. JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, told the House the budget bill doesn’t set policy – it just funds the programs that are there now. The bill passed, 52-18.
Meanwhile, the Senate has been debating and passing a series of memorials and resolutions. Among them: HCR 38, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the addition of the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance; HJM 10, backing certain positions in negotiations with Canada over the Columbia River Treaty; and HCR 51, declaring March 30, 2014, as the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran Day” in Idaho as part of a national commemoration.