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When state Treasurer Julie Ellsworth went before lawmakers for her budget hearing last week, Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, said, “I don’t see in here anything about the litigation costs. Without getting into the pros and cons of litigation between entities, can you give us an estimate of the cost of litigation … on the occupancy question?”

Ellsworth is currently being sued by House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill over her refusal to move her offices out of the first floor of the state Capitol building, where they’ve been located for more than 100 years – but a 2007 law gave the Legislature, not the executive branch, control over the first floor of the Capitol. Legislative leaders want to remodel the treasurer’s current space to provide private offices for House members, many of whom now just have open cubicles.

Ellsworth didn't have an estimate for JFAC, but it turns out that as of Friday, legal fees already paid out amount to $84,599 for the treasurer's office, and for the Legislature, $122,566.

Also in my Sunday column: Successful fundraising by the STEM Action Center, and what's up with state revenue. You can read my full column here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today's Sunday/Monday edition of the Idaho Press.

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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