Bringing the Economy Home

The Idaho House Could Be In For A Long Debate On The Health Exchange

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

Sen. Brent Hill and Rep. Scott Bedke talked with Idaho Press Club members over lunch on Tuesday.

Could the Idaho House of Representatives be in for a marathon debate tomorrow over the latest state-based health insurance exchange proposal? If what happened during Senate debate on a similar proposal is any indication, then yes.

Last month, the Senate passed Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s plan to create an online insurance marketplace, or health insurance exchange, in a 23-12 vote after nearly six hours of debate. Since then, an alternate bill that gives the Legislature more oversight of the exchange has gotten initial approval in a House committee. It’s up for debate in front of the full chamber tomorrow morning.

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) says he doesn’t plan to limit debate. “We’re going to start around 9:30 and go ’til we’re done,” he says. “I think this is an issue that needs to be vetted.”

Bedke says the body may take a lunch break, but he says it’s important for lawmakers to hash it out, even if many of the points mirror those made during Senate debate last month. “This is an important issue, and people feel strongly about that,” says Bedke.

Speaker Bedke says the 57 House Republicans will meet this afternoon for a refresher on decorum. He says rules are in place to keep the debate respectful, which Bedke says is important. “In some ways, I’ve not been looking forward to it,” he adds, “but in other ways, I think this could be one of our finer hours.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) joked that debate in the House could last twice as long as the Senate’s six-hour discussion since the House has double the number of Legislators.

The House is scheduled to go into session at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. You’ll be able to watch the debate live here.


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