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Eye On Boise

‘Conscience’ bill clears committee, 6-3

The Senate State Affairs Committee has voted 6-3 to pass SB 1353, the "conscience" bill, and send it to the full Senate with a recommendation that it "do pass." "This legislation prohibits nothing, it does allow professionals to opt out of something they don't want to do," said Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who made the motion to approve the bill. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said the long hearing on the bill pointed up some potential legal problems, especially concerning the impact of the measure on Idaho employers. "We may be creating greater challenges to employers, and that's an area that I think we may as a Legislature have to look at adjusting as time goes by," Davis said.  But he said he'd support the bill, and noted that business groups didn't turn out to testify against it.

Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, said, "We should answer those questions before we take the bold step of putting something into the code and exposing ourselves and our employers to what could be substantial litigation on an issue." She added that she saw the bill as "a very ill-timed move" because of the cost to the state of defending it in court, when Idaho is "facing unprecedented budget crisis." Those voting in favor of the bill were Sens. Fulcher, Davis, McKague, Pearce, Darrington and Geddes. Those voting against were Sens. Kelly, Stegner and Stennett.

Eye On Boise

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