Idaho Capitol dome 3-19-19

Dome of the Idaho state Capitol

The House has voted 59-9 in favor of SB 1129a, legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to fill a service gap for dental care on Idaho’s tribal reservations by authorizing a new intermediate level type of service provider, dental therapists. Dental therapists work under the supervision of dentists, and unlike dental hygienists, can perform certain specified dental procedures and diagnoses. The backers of the bill initially proposed the new licensing category be created statewide, but after pushback from Idaho dentists, the bill was redrafted to apply only on Idaho’s five Indian reservations. When SB 1129 first came up for a vote in the Senate, Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, said he didn’t think that restriction was effectively worded, so the bill was amended. It then passed the Senate, 30-4.

In the House, the bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Sue Chew, D-Boise, and Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls. With its final passage today, the bill now goes to the governor’s desk.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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