State exchange passes Senate, heads to Governor for signature
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The issue of creating state-run health insurance exchange made repeated appearances in the 2013 legislative session.
But, with a 23-12 vote on Thursday, the Senate officially passed the exchange and sent it to the Governor's desk for approval.
"Any time that you can put one of these big ones to rest, it's going to make it easier to focus on the other things that need to be done," says Senator Jim Rice (R-Caldwell).
But, having the issue completed is bittersweet news for the 12 lawmakers who voted against the bill twice on the senate floor.
"It is at least behind us at this point, so there's, I suppose, a silver lining if you want to look at it that way,” says Senator Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian). “But, personally, I wish it would have came out differently."
Now, the Senators who serve in the Republican majority will work to get past the controversial issue.
"We have the ability to separate the issue from the people,” Fulcher says. “However, I will say that the content of this legislation is deeply personal"
Sen. Rice says it won't take long to move on.
"We're still friends, so there's not a division that needs to be healed,” he says. “There's a difference of opinion that was displayed in the vote and in the debate."
Sen. Fulcher says opponents of the exchange will still watch the national climate closely, hoping to jump on any opportunity to take the federal government to court over issues with the law regarding religion and privacy.
He says, now the state must deal with whatever might come next.
"Hopefully we made a decision that we can defend in the future. But, admittedly for me, it was a tough loss today," says Fulcher.
As for the Governor, he's very likely to sign the bill into law. He's advocated the creation of the exchange since a task force looked into the issue before the session started