Idaho Democrats see a fresh opportunity to make a point in a Senate committee's rejection of a bill to prohibit dissolvable tobacco lozenges.
Democrat Elliot Werk of Boise sponsored the bill, but it failed on a 5-4 vote after Republican Sen. Melinda Smyser of Parma, whose husband is a tobacco lobbyist, changed her mind and voted against it.
Here is the most recent news story on the vote. And here is the full text of a Democratic news release today, edited only for punctuation:
Keith Roark, Chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, called on the Idaho’s Republican legislators to join Democrats to enact higher ethical standards to limit the influence of special interests in the legislative process.
“Yesterday, special interests showed their unrestrained power in the Republican-controlled Idaho Legislature when a state senator – the spouse of a tobacco industry lobbyist – was allowed to change her vote after the Senate Health & Welfare Committee voted to support a bill restricting a new dissolvable tobacco product designed to appeal to young people,” Roark explained. When the vote was called, Sen. Melinda Smyser voted for the bill, and it passed. However, the tobacco lobby wanted the bill killed. After the committee had moved on to other business, Sen. Smyser moved to change her vote, and the bill was killed.
“There is no question that the bill would have been good for Idaho’s young people, but the tobacco industry felt it would have been bad for their business. Once again, where the best interests of the people of Idaho were pitted against the power of special interests, the people lost. Worse yet, Republicans continue to oppose adoption of ethics rules that would outlaw such blatant conflicts of interest.”
“The Idaho Legislature’s ethics rules are among the weakest of any state and much weaker than those applicable to our local government officials,” said Roark, who is a former Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney and mayor of Hailey. “The people of Idaho are entitled to know that the public’s business is managed in the public interest, not to advance special interests. Public trust in our public processes is vital. I call upon Republican legislators to join their Democratic colleagues and enact a strict code of ethics for all members of the Idaho House and Senate.”