Greg Chaney screenshot

House Judiciary Chairman Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, presides on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, as the Judiciary Committee meeting turned testy.

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Things are getting plenty testy at the Idaho Statehouse today. At this point, the House is back in session, but Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, objected to waiving full reading of a lengthy bill about annuities, so that's now being read by the House's deputy clerk.

Meanwhile, in the Capitol's "garden level" or basement, a loud crowd spilled out of the abruptly halted House Judiciary hearing on the "targeted picketing" bill, which may (or may not) continue later after the House floor session. People were shouting and the air filled, inexplicably, with the smell of cigarette smoke.

Idaho State Police said there was one arrest, on a warrant, of David Pettinger, the same protester who was arrested on the first day of this year's legislative session on a warrant related to his earlier protest at the home of Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo. Pettinger, wearing a giant yellow Star of David, had just testified at another committee during a break in the Judiciary meeting, railing against "fascism" and drawing an admonishment from Commerce Committee Chair James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, to tone it down and keep testimony civil and constructive.

Just before the Judiciary Committee meeting ended, Nate pressed Chairman Greg Chaney on whether there'd be further testimony allowed at the next meeting if the committee adjourned; Chaney responded, "Well, Rep. Nate, that depends on how much time we waste on the floor of the House because we would’ve had plenty of time today had we not had silly tactics…” Nate objected and Chaney ruled his own comments out of order.

Meanwhile, up in the House, Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, has tried four times to ask unanimous consent to waive further reading of his bill, HB 79, a 16-page bill about annuities, but drew continuing objections, including from Nate and from Reps. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird.

House Speaker Scott Bedke grumbled that Nate left the floor during the reading of the bill, leaving others to continue objecting. "This is not proper," he fumed. Scott disputed that, and Nate said he wasn't the original one to object to waiving reading.

Later, House Assistant Majority Leader Jason Monks tried moving to waive full reading of the bill; Scott objected. All this, so far, has eaten up more than 45 miniutes...

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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