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Eye On Boise

Helen’s back on the scene

Legislation approving the Nez Perce water rights agreement was introduced in the House Resources Committee this afternoon, with a standing-room-only crowd in attendance. Among those looking on: Former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage.

After three bills to implement the agreement were introduced on 16-1, 15-2 and 15-2 votes, Chairman Rep. Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, introduced Chenoweth-Hage to applause. (For the record, the votes against the bills were all from Reps. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, and JoAn Wood, R-Rigby.)

Stevenson told Chenoweth-Hage, “We appreciate your interest in these things.”

Asked afterward why she came, Chenoweth-Hage said, “I just wanted to see what was going on with the water bills.” She wouldn’t say if she’s for or against them: “I have to read them first. I have to see how they affect North Idaho.”

She added, “Some of the people from the Farm Bureau asked me to come.”

The Idaho Farm Bureau is the leading opponent of the Nez Perce agreement, while most other agriculture groups in Idaho are backing the deal, which already has the support of Congress, President Bush, and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

Stevenson said the committee will hold two days of public hearings on the bills Feb. 22-23.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.