Idaho Legislature, Day 44: a reading roundup

• Susan Kiebert resigned from a post on the Idaho Judicial Council after failing to disclose a 1995 federal conviction on her application. But Gov. Butch Otter’s office shares some of the blame for Monday’s snafu, our Dan Popkey said in a Tuesday column.

“The Judicial Council is among the governor’s most critical appointments. There’s no excuse for staff failure to scrutinize Kiebert, and, when problems arose, to instantly alert the boss. … In his sixth year as governor, you’d think he and his staff would have learned how to avoid such an embarrassing rookie mistake.”

• The House Revenue and Taxation Committee took a first look Monday at a bill addressing an old idea: collecting sales tax on Internet purchases.

The 79-page bill will be up for a vote on “printing” Tuesday, but the prospects aren’t good.

The bill “may be done in by its own complexity,” reports Melissa Davlin of The Times-News in Twin Falls.

• The House Health and Welfare Committee did not kill a bill that would allow employers to ignore federal rules requiring them to provide contraception. Instead, lawmakers will allow Rep. Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, to rework the bill.

From the Associated Press: Supportive committee Republicans will allow Bilbao to tweak the wording “to allay their fears it could keep patients who use prescription birth control for medical reasons besides contraception from receiving necessary treatment.”

• In yet another bill on hold, the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee will vote Wednesday on a bill allowing ranchers to use live-bait trapping and helicopters to hunt problem wolves.

From the Associated Press: “Bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a southeastern Idaho rancher, says wolves wreak tens of thousands of dollars in damage to livestock owners like him and the new tools may help stop the bleeding.

“But opponents say it's overkill."

• In our Tuesday editorial, we criticize the tepid, industry-backed animal cruelty bill now before the Senate.

“It would get an animal cruelty felony on the books. But it would rarely be used, if ever. And it wouldn’t establish any additional penalties.

“Yes, Idaho would lose the stigma of having no animal cruelty felony law, leaving North and South Dakota to shoulder that burden. If this is the best Idaho can do, however, it’s hardly even worth the effort.”

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