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Eye On Boise

Senate defeats bid to call ‘Healthy Idaho’ coverage bill out of committee, on party-line vote

The Senate has just voted along straight party lines to reject a call from Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, to call SB 1205, the “Healthy Idaho” plan to address Idaho’s health coverage gap, out of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee. The vote was 28-7 to “excuse the committee” from reporting the bill, with all Republicans voting yes, and all Senate Democrats voting no.

“I’m glad we can debate this motion,” Schmidt told the senate, after Senate Majority Bart Davis made the motion to “excuse” the committee from Schmidt’s call. “I believe strongly that we should be considering the issue this motion is about. It’s not always comfortable to face issues like this. And I’m sorry that we are making a motion to call this bill. I wish it was being done differently. But we have these rules, we have Senate rules for a purpose just like this.”

Schmidt said, “I believe we were elected to do this sort of difficult thing. And I support the process that we’ve all been called to do. It’s our job. So I will be opposing the motion to excuse the committee. I believe the committee has had the bill, I believe the committee has had a hearing, and I believe it is time for this body to consider this issue. Thank you.”

Davis then closed the debate on the motion. “Mr. President, senators, there are many of us on this floor who are very sympathetic to the principles in the legislation, frankly in both parties,” he said. “We get that. And with time, rather than trying to muscle legislation through, I have confidence the legislators will have an increased understanding of what’s the right approach, what’s the best approach for Idaho going forward. The committee in this instance, apparently by its absence of being here, has made a decision to not report the bill. And this is a process motion. This is not a substance motion. This is not an instance where I am asking the floor to reject principles or concepts that frankly I know that many of you that will support the motion personally believe in, I get all of that.”

“But we have historically as a Senate deferred a lot of our decision-making to our germane committees,” Davis said. “I frequently, with few exceptions, support the decisions and the recommendations of our committees, because the committee process works.”

The Senate Health & Welfare Committee, chaired by Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, held a hearing on the bill earlier at which testimony was overwhelmingly in favor. However, it took no vote and made no decision.

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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