BOISE -- Senators voted 23-12 to pass Gov. C.L. Butch Otter's proposed state-based insurance exchange during debate where it was both bashed as federal tyranny and praised as a salvo for Idaho sovereignty.
Thursday's decision, mirroring a Senate vote on a similar bill in February, sends the measure to Otter's desk.
Sen. John Tippets of Montpelier contends Idaho is better protected from a feared single-payer, federal insurance system by adopting its own online marketplace to sell insurance to individuals and small businesses.
Sen. Russ Fulcher of Meridian countered this exchange, required under President Barack Obama's 2010 insurance overhaul, will attach Idaho to the strings of the federal puppeteer.
This bill includes competitive-bidding requirements for contractors seeking to run the exchange, gun-rights protections for participants and a 19-member board that must meet publicly.