House OKs proclamation asking Idaho to refund ranchers

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s House has approved a proposal calling for the state to reimburse two ranchers for legal costs they incurred fighting the federal government.

House Speaker Scott Bedke on Monday briefly left the speaker’s chair so he could debate in favor of the proclamation, arguing he disagreed with a recent Idaho attorney general’s opinion that it was likely unconstitutional.

It was the first time during the legislative session Bedke debated a bill on the House floor.

The proclamation states that $600,000 from the Constitutional Defense Fund should go to the Joyce Livestock and Lu Ranching companies to pay them back for the money they spent in the water rights cases more than a decade ago.

Supporters say the case set important legal precedent for Idaho livestock owners and protected the state from “federal overreach.”

Proclamations don’t carry the weight of law, and instead are akin to policy statements.

House members approved the proclamation on a voice vote. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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