January 27, 1996 in Idaho

Committees Show Dorr The Way Out

By The Spokesman-Review

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Rep. Tom Dorr.

Dorr, R-Post Falls, introduced his first-ever bill, setting 25 mph speed limits statewide for residential areas. He meant to submit it to a committee, but accidentally got it introduced as a personal bill.

When he went to a committee for a hearing, he got slam-dunked. His fellow lawmakers attacked his bill as a poorly thought-out infringement on local control.

Next, Dorr announced his second-ever bill, which would have made it harder to get a divorce in Idaho. He held a big press conference with the Idaho Family Forum, which promoted the bill as the key to old-fashioned family values, a godly society and the American way.

But Dorr was horrified by an immediate objection to his bill: It would have made it harder for battered wives to get out of abusive marriages.

Dorr’s bill would have required both parties’ consent before a divorce could be granted for irreconcilable differences. That’s the grounds for 98 percent of Idaho divorces.

In his quest to promote marriage, Dorr found himself portrayed as a supporter of wife-beaters.

“The abuse was not something I’d had to deal with,” Dorr said. “The abuse issue came up and certainly needs to be dealt with. It’s a valid concern.”

So Dorr agreed to withdraw his bill in favor of having a legislative subcommittee look into Idaho’s divorce laws. But he didn’t realize until afterward that that meant his bill would be killed.

“Everyone wants to examine it thoroughly before they do anything,” he said quietly. “I certainly can’t fault them for that.”

This session is a bit of a change for Dorr, a freshman who last session spent most of his energy trying to understand how things work in the Legislature.

“For myself, obviously it’s a lot more animated,” he said.

A safe offer

As the House State Affairs committee congratulated Sen. Hal Bunderson, R-Meridian, and Dyke Nally, state liquor dispensary superintendent, for reworking the dispensary’s rules, Bunderson told this story:

He was working with Rep. Ruby Stone, R-Boise, on a task force at the dispensary when Stone commented that in 10 years of working on projects at the dispensary, no one had ever offered her a drink.

“I said, Ruby, they offer me drinks all the time.”

The committee burst out laughing. Like the dispensary folks, they knew that Bunderson, a Mormon, doesn’t drink.

Lucky number

Idaho Lottery spokesman Pat Reilly is scheduled to teach a community education class next month on “The Idaho Lottery, How it Works.”

The class is one of hundreds people teach at public schools as part of the community education program; offerings in Boise this year range from computers to massage to teenage skin care.

Reilly said his class, a repeat, has been a surprise hit: About 25 people typically sign up. “They want to know where the winning tickets are, how you know what the lucky numbers are.” Although he doesn’t have those answers, he said folks seem genuinely interested in learning how the lottery works.

The big guns

The Kootenai Tribe sometime back hired a lobbyist, former state Sen. Skip Smyser, to help push for a sales tax exemption for a tribal economic development project. Local businessmen in Bonners Ferry have so objected to the tiny tribe’s plans that they, too, have hired a lobbyist.

Fighting against the tribe will be Bill Roden, a former legislator and one of the most experienced and respected lobbyists in Boise. Roden’s other clients include the Tobacco Institute, US West and the Idaho Beer & Wine Distributors.

, DataTimes MEMO: North-South Notes run every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to bzrussell@rmci.net.

North-South Notes run every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to bzrussell@rmci.net.

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