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Eye On Boise

Giant salamander bill passes House on 51-17 vote

Ilah Hickman

The House has voted 51-17 in favor of HB 1, the bill from a Boise 8th-grader to designate the Idaho giant salamander as the state amphibian, sending the measure to the Senate – where last year, it passed overwhelmingly; you can read my full story here at Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, said, “This is a really unique critter. … I certainly have grown to appreciate this critter. I think the giant salamander actually is the best choice for this designation. It has the perfect name for the state amphibian. Furthermore, out of 14 amphibians that reside in Idaho, it is the only one that resides almost exclusively in this state. … It’s not in any way endangered. Its skin looks like a topographical map of the Bitterroot Mountains.”

McDonald noted that the salamander has the potential to help medical research; it can regenerate limbs. Also, it’s not endangered. “It’s one piece of our natural heritage,” McDonald said. “Not everyone will care if there’s a state amphibian, but many do care.”

Fourteen-year-old Ilah Hickman, the author of the bill, who has pressed for it for the past five years, watched from the House gallery with her parents. Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, told the House, “The Idaho giant salamander may be of little consequence to adults, but to a 9-year-old child, it’s a big deal. … It stirs the imagination of little children.”

There was no debate against the bill, despite the “no” votes. If HB 1 now passes the Senate and receives the governor’s signature, the Idaho giant salamander would join the mountain bluebird, the Appaloosa horse, the monarch butterfly, the cutthroat trout, the huckleberry and others among Idaho’s official state symbols. The full list is online here.

Here are the 17 "no" votes: Reps. Andrus, Bedke, Burtenshaw, Collins, Crane, Dayley, Gestrin, Harris, McMillan, Mendive, Monks, Moyle, Nielsen, Shepherd, Sims, Thompson and Vander Woude. Two representatives missed the vote, Reps. Barbieri and DeMordaunt. All other representatives voted yes.

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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