BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho House panel has advanced a proposal that would remove mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking cases.

The House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee on Wednesday agreed to send the bill to the House floor for debate after nearly six hours of testimony.

However, the proposal still faces an uphill battle in a Republican-dominated Statehouse often hesitant to soften its strict anti-drug stance.

Reps. Ilana Rubel, a Democrat from Boise, and Christy Perry, a Republican from Nampa, say the bill will give judges more discretion in sentencing and does not halt drug trafficking cases from being tried in court.

Perry, who is running for Idaho's open 1st Congressional District seat, added that some of the convicted are addicts and not the high-level dealers the law was designed to target.

Critics counter that the bill may make it harder for law enforcement to stop criminals.

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