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Idaho Legislature Works Toward Adjournment

With “sine die,” the end of the Idaho legislative session possibly coming as quickly as early next week, there is a flurry of activity at the Statehouse as numerous bills are making their way to the governor’s desk or the dustbin.  Boise Rep. Julie Ellsworth said she worked all session to convince enough of her colleagues to pass a texting while driving ban.  After years of similar legislation failing, this year the ban is headed to the Senate for approval of amendments.  One of those removes an exemption for law enforcement. Sponsors expect it to pass, after which it would head to the governor’s desk.  Already headed to the governor’s desk this week is a bill that would lift restrictions on investment in microbreweries. Also waiting for Otter’s signature is a measure that would list hunting as a constitutional right in Idaho. Meanwhile on Thursday, a Senate committee killed a bill that would keep anyone under 15 from using tanning salons, and require parental consent for teens between 16 and 18.  Also, a proposed amendment that would require two-thirds support from the House and Senate on fee or tax hikes failed. It didn’t meet its own two-thirds majority in the House in order to make it on the 2012 ballot.  A bill that would’ve fined companies for not reporting hiring or rehiring of employees, information the Department of Labor says it needs to prevent people continuing to collect as much as $5 million in fraudulent benefits annually, passed the House by just two votes Thursday. It was headed to the governor, and then it wasn’t, as Rep. Scott Bedke (R – Oakley) moved for reconsideration of the bill.  The assistant majority leader originally supported the measure, but then said a reward system may work better than fines.  Other bills could just be running out of time to make it through the Legislature. A measure that would ignore daylight savings time hasn’t even had a committee hearing scheduled yet.  Also, the controversial ultrasound mandate has yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing in the House.  While no official date has been set for sine die, most lawmakers say it will likely happen early to middle of next week.

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