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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Otter lets last three bills become law without his signature; no vetoes this year

In the end, there were no vetoes - not a one - as Gov. Butch Otter today allowed the last three bills passed by lawmakers this year to become law without his signature. That makes 342 bills passed and zero vetoes. The three:

SB 1321a, which altered a law about the Fish & Game winter feeding account to specify that it only can be spent for actual food, not for improvements to winter range for the same animals being fed, or for anything else. That controversial measure passed the Senate 25-8 and the House 40-30; it was sponsored by Sens. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, and Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton. Otter pointed out some serious problems with the bill in his transmittal letter - including that by specifying the fund could only go for food, it couldn't pay for the transportation costs to get the food out to the animals and other related costs, and therefore would put pressure on fishing and hunting license funds to fill in those costs. Nevertheless, he  didn't veto the bill.

HB 603, the new "97 percent protection" bill for Idaho school districts, which partially restores a program eliminated under the "Students Come First" school reforms that protected districts from big, sudden drops in state funding if they lose students from one year to the next. Under the bill, districts that lose more than 3 percent of their students from one year to the next will be funded as if they've lost just 3 percent, but the money for the protection will come from school districts themselves, spreading the cost among all the state's school districts. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, and the Idaho Association of School Administrators, received only one "no" vote in either house - from House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star. Otter said in his transmittal letter that he opposed such funding protection as double funding of students.

HB 611, the bill that was promoted as a move to ease sale of abandoned horses by horse boarders by adjusting a law that currently requires, after 60 days, that the animals be sold at a licensed livestock auction, to simply allow them to be sold at a public auction. Sponsored by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, the bill passed both houses unanimously. However, Otter noted in his transmittal letter that "the scope of this legislation goes beyond the intent 'to provide for an alternative method of selling boarded horses when the owners do not pay.'" Otter, an avid horseman and rancher himself, wrote, "The legislation is not limited to horses but provides for public auction of 'livestock of any kind.' This broad language has raised concerns from owners of livestock auction yards." Still, he didn't veto the bill, saying instead  that he looks forward to "working with all parties in resolving these concerns" during next year's legislative session.

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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