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Thursday, August 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Idaho AG goes to lower court

Wasden files motion to block rental policy

Jessie L. Bonner Associated Press

BOISE – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a motion in district court late Thursday to block a new rental policy for homes on hundreds of state-owned lake shore sites in North Idaho.

Fourth District Judge Deborah Bail will hold a hearing on Wasden’s motion for a preliminary injunction on Dec. 15, according to the attorney general’s office. The Idaho Supreme Court threw out Wasden’s case Wednesday.

The high court did not dispute Wasden’s argument, that the policy sets rents too low in violation of the state constitution, but found the case should have gone to the lower court.

Wasden claims the policy approved by the state Board of Land Commissioners sets rents below market value when the state constitution requires the land to be managed for maximum profit over time.

Wasden sits on the land board with Idaho’s four other top elected officials and voted against the policy, which would raise the rents tenants pay by 9 percent in 2011 and by 54 percent over the next five years.

The new leases, to be implemented Jan. 1, are flawed and written to favor the current renters at the expense of public schools and other endowment beneficiaries, Wasden argues.

After the Supreme Court ruling Wednesday, Wasden vowed to pursue his case in the lower court “to vindicate the constitutional rights of Idaho schoolchildren and the other beneficiaries of the endowment trusts.”

His motion for a preliminary injunction in Ada County aims to keep Gov. Butch Otter, in his role as chairman of the land board, from executing the new leases.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, who also sits on the land board, called for Wasden to surrender his legal fights and bring his own rent proposal to commissioners.

“We’ve already spent too many tax dollars on this matter,” Luna said.

But Wasden insists this question needs to be answered: Are the state land commissioners fulfilling their constitutional duties to the beneficiaries of Idaho’s endowment lands?

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