Former Gov. Phil Batt awarded Idaho’s top honor

FILE - Governor Phil Batt wins applause from Lt. Gov. Butch Otter, left, and Speaker of the House Mike Simpson, right, during his speech opening the Idaho Legislature Monday afternoon, Jan. 8, 1996 in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Glenn Oakley)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt has been awarded the state’s top honor, the 2019 Idaho Medal of Achievement.

Batt is the third person to receive the medal, joining teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and the late human rights activist Marilyn Shuler.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Gov.-elect Brad Little and former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Copple Trout presented the award to Batt at a ceremony in Otter’s office on Thursday.

Batt, an onion farmer from Wilder, was a state senator and a lieutenant governor before becoming Idaho’s 29th governor, serving from 1995 to 1999. Throughout his political career the now-91-year-old championed human rights legislation, including pushing for more protections for farm workers, a minimum wage law, and helping to establish a Commission on Human Rights.

Otter said Batt is a rare leader who transcends political ideology.

Copple Trout, who chairs the Idaho Medal of Achievement Commission, which reviewed 60 nominees this year, said Batt “made correcting and improving Idaho’s image on human rights his personal mission. Idaho is a better place today as a result of the work he did for all of us.”

Batt said he was “absolutely delighted” with the award.

“I’ll always be for Idaho, the same as ever,” he said.

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