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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Lawmakers, governor comment on special session…

House Speaker Scott Bedke said, “We did leave some unfinished business at the end of the regular session; we were able to finish that yesterday. … To the members of the House, there was obviously a difference of opinion on the issue, but it was, the central point was that this was about collecting child support for the kids in a way that holds the parents responsible, and with that responsibility that keeps them off of the welfare rolls. And there were strong opinions on both sides of this issue and we had a good process. Certainly we encourage all to vote their conscience and that’s what they did yesterday, and I think it was a good outcome. … I’m very pleased that we were able to finish the way we did yesterday.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, putting his arms around the shoulders of Gov. Butch Otter and Bedke, said, “If there’s anyone who doesn’t know it yet, these are great leaders.” He praised their “great work in taking an awkward situation and making the best of it in a special session.”

Hill shared the last line of an email he received this morning: “It says, ‘You shall be spurned and scorned all your days for your undermining and disloyalty to the Constitution.’” Pausing, he said, “My thanks also has to go to the Legislature – legislators who overwhelmingly saw that the accusations that were being made, and are still being made, are bogus. We did not compromise our state sovereignty. We did not neglect due process. We did not breach confidentiality. We did not abandon our beloved Constitution, either at the state level or at the federal level. We did a good thing yesterday. We did a good thing. There are a lot of people to be thanked. But I want to thank the citizens of this state for their support, and I want to thank those that they elected, those 105 legislators, who came and did good work yesterday.”

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, who sponsored HB 1 on the floor of the Senate, said, “I think congratulations are in order to the governor and his team, (Health & Welfare) Director (Dick) Armstrong and the leadership in the House and the Senate. This was never a partisan issue at all. Both parties worked extraordinarily well together, I think, on this issue, and people who had differing view on the legislation certainly had every opportunity in yesterday’s joint hearing and on the floor to express them, and democracy works. From my perspective, the best possible decision was made, after it was all said and done. Everybody had their say, and I commend the governor for calling this special session and getting this important work done.”

House Judiciary Chairman Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, who was asked about criticisms of the Department of Health & Welfare by some lawmakers during yesterday’s session, said, “I really want to clear the air here: Health & Welfare really answered every question they were asked from the beginning, and they provided us with the details.”

Gov. Otter said, “It is our responsibility in formulating that public policy to be as open and to be as descriptive and as informative as we possibly can. I disagree with many of those questions or accusations that were made about the information that was given out.” He noted that at one point, opponents had gotten hold of an earlier version of congressional legislation that never passed, and thought that was the issue in question. “In some cases, they were working with the wrong information. Once we got the right information to ‘em, they were still hung up on the old information. … There’s nothing we can do about that.”

Otter said, “The discourse in establishing public policy is not always pretty, and it has a tendency to raise the anger and the passions. But it doesn’t help when we don’t always refer to those opportunities or to those debates in a gentlemanly and a ladylike way. Where it broke down a time or two yesterday, I would be the first to apologize for those people, because we’re better than that here in Idaho. We can disagree. But that doesn’t excuse our responsibility to do that in a constructive way, and I think that constructive way broke down a time or two yesterday.”

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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