A proposal to legalize oil extracted from cannabis plants is likely dead for the year after a group of lawmakers broke out in turmoil during a last-minute attempt to advance the bill.
Republican Sen. Tony Potts on Monday asked the Senate Health and Welfare Committee to give HB 577 a hearing. However, Potts was quickly gaveled down while defending his motion by Sen. Lee Heider, chairman of the panel.
Instead, Heider instructed the panel to meet privately to discuss Potts’ motion.
Heated yelling could be heard by multiple members from inside Heider’s office.
"When I hear things like we're going to hold this bill because leadership doesn't want it, or the Governor doesn't want it, or this special interest group doesn't want it, to me, that's a sign that we lost touch with those that we truly represent," Potts said.
The committee only broke up after being warned by a reporter that their actions were breaking the state’s Open Meeting Law.
"We have those laws so that we're not deal-making and doing things behind closed doors, and that didn't happen," Potts said. "Nobody agreed to anything."
Members then voted to hold HB 577 in committee — a legislative procedure essentially halting the bill from moving forward.
Current U.S. Representative and gubernatorial candidate Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, weighed in on the decision to kill the bill.
“Leaders in Idaho should encourage op en, heartfelt debate on important issues. Which is why I’m so disappointed to see the Otter-Little administration manipulate the legislature, usurp the legislative process, and deny our citizens a voice in this important debate. That is politics at its worst.
If this administration has real valid reasons to oppose the CBD oil legislation, they should present them in a public, open forum. They should defeat ideas in committee, not hide behind a committee chairman to avoid the public debate. This won’t happen under my administration.
Every Idahoan should ask themselves where the President of the Senate is on this issue? Lt. Governor Brad Little stood on the sidelines while the governor usurped the legislative process. Unfortunately, this is not the first time he has failed to be the leader the people of Idaho can trust. This is not the kind of leadership the people of Idaho deserve. This is why I’m running for governor.”
In response, Lt. Gov. Brad Little's campaign released this statement:
"For the last eight years while Congressman Labrador sat back in DC, failing to fix important issues like immigration and repealing obamacare, Idaho’s conservative state leadership has been working and listening to Idahoans in all corners of the state,” said Zach Hauge, Brad Little for Governor Campaign Manager.
Tommy Ahlquist's campaign also issued the following statement in response to CBD Oil legislation news:
“Since day one, Tommy has supported the legalization of CBD oil that helps sick people as long as the THC is removed and it's prescribed by a doctor. One thing is for sure, a professional politician from DC or Boise as our next governor is not the solution here. We need a governor with real world leadership and a track record of getting things done who can work with the legislature to build a legislative agenda that prevents situations like this.”—David Johnston, Campaign Manager
Senate Minority Caucus Chairwoman Maryanne Jordan, a Democrat from Boise, says Health and Welfare Chairman Heider, vacated Monday's vote on HB 577 during the panel's Tuesday meeting.
Heider violated the Idaho Open Meeting Law on Monday by halting a public meeting to ask members to meet in private about HB 577.
It's still unknown if Heider will allow the bill to advance by giving it a hearing.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.