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The Senate has voted 24-11 in favor of HB 500a, the controversial transgender athletes bill, which prohibits transgender girls or women from playing on school teams that match their gender identity. In her closing debate, Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “We are not trying to do anything except save women’s sports for girls and women. It is in the state’s interest. … There is a third-party group that has been working with us on this bill and it will be responsible for any legal defense fees.”

“So is there a problem now?” Souza asked. “Not in Idaho. Although there was a young man on a track team in eastern Idaho who decided a year ago that he wanted to run on the girls team. He was on the boys track team, and he wanted to sign up for the girls track team. And he thought about it, talked to the coach and made a decision not to do that. I don’t know any of the details, but that’s what the outcome was. It’s coming. The issue is in states across the country.”

The bill now returns to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments; if approved there, it still would need the governor's signature to become law. Here's the full vote breakdown:

Voting yes: Sens. Agenbroad, Anthon, Bair, Bayer, Brackett, Burtenshaw, Cheatham, Crabtree, Den Hartog, Grow, Harris, Heider, Hill, Lakey, Lent, Lodge, Martin, Mortimer, Patrick, Rice, Souza, Thayn, Vick, and Winder.

Voting no: Sens. Buckner-Webb, Burgoyne, Guthrie, Johnson, Jordan, Lee, Nelson, Nye, Stennett, Ward-Engelking and Woodward.

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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