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Eye On Boise

Senate passes anti-wolf bill, 27-8

Last-minute legislation to declare a disaster emergency in Idaho due to wolves has cleared the Senate on a 27-8 vote and headed to the governor's desk, after just being introduced in the House two days ago. "There's anti-wolf coalition groups all over the state that are pleading with us to do something," declared Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, the bill's Senate sponsor. He said people in Idaho are living in fear of their children being attacked by wolves at school bus stops, and "women going to the mailbox and being held hostage by wolves surrounding them." He told the Senate, "It's an issue of freedom."

Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, read from an Idaho attorney general's opinion that pointed out problems in the way the bill is set up, by creating an emergency by statute, then declaring that the governor can issue various orders, and laying out a process in which legislative concurrent resolutions direct the governor. "What we're doing here violates the separation of powers," Werk said. "We cannot through concurrent resolution direct the ... governor of the state of Idaho to then do an action." Werk said, "We have wolf issues in Idaho, there is no doubt." But he said, "When we look at this piece of legislation, what are we doing?"

Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, said similar clauses already exist in Idaho law and haven't been challenged. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, "We know this bill isn't the best answer, but it's a stopgap answer that allows us to act and protect the citizens of Idaho. ... This gives us some opportunity to protect our citizens and our wildlife and our lifestyle."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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