Of salamanders and diapers …

Ilah Hickman’s dream of an Idaho state amphibian could be back on track.

And for that, the Boise eighth-grader could thank a diaper awareness bill.

The House State Affairs Committee abruptly voted Wednesday morning to send House Bill 1, Hickman’s salamander bill, to the House floor with the recommendation that it pass.

The about-face came almost two months to the day after the same committee voted 10-6 to hold the bill, which would declare the Idaho giant salamander the state’s amphibian. Committee members cited several reasons for their opposition. Several expressed fears that the state designation would bring additional restrictions in the salamander’s North Idaho habitat. Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, said he found salamanders “creepy” as a youth, opposing the state designation.

House State Affairs leaders had a change of heart Tuesday, Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported Wednesday, after listening to the House debate and pass a resolution supporting National Diaper Need Awareness Week.

“If we’ve got time to talk about diapers on the House floor, we’ve certainly got time enough to talk about the giant salamander,” said Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, according to Russell. “We’ve had a young lady come here and do something that’s very important to her. She was sent away by the committee, saying it wasn’t worthy of discussion. It’s time we re-evaluate our position.”

Hickman is in her fifth year of pushing for a state amphibian bill. The Senate passed her bill in 2014, but House State Affairs did not consider it.

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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