House Democrats bar the door to meeting

From the Idaho Statesman

Eight years after opening party caucuses, Democrats meet privately on fuel taxes.
Published: 04/01/09

A Statesman reporter was denied entry to the brief closed caucus held Tuesday, but Caucus Chairman Bill Killen later apologized and said the party’s open-door policy has not changed.

Killen, D-Boise, said he was unaware of the reporter’s request to observe the caucus. “I’m sorry you got locked out,” Killen told the reporter. “For what it’s worth, the vote was to stick to the caucus position.”

Democrats asked for a five-minute recess just before the House was to vote on an amendment to increase the fuel tax by 4 cents a gallon, up from 2 cents in the original bill. The 18 Democrats entered a room just off the floor and closed the door.

Upon a knock by the reporter, Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, opened the door and was asked, “Is this caucus open?”

“No,” replied King, shutting the door. The meeting broke up within minutes and Democrats returned to the floor to reaffirm their opposition to fuel-tax increases.

Just three of 18 Democrats supported the 4-cent increase, which was widely defeated. Democrats oppose GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s fuel-tax increase proposals because of the recession and their objection to raising transportation taxes while schools are suffering budget cuts.

In 2001, as majority Republicans were under fire for closed caucus meetings, Democrats opened their doors. Typically, party caucuses are announced on the floor and held during more extended recesses.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438

From the Idaho Statesman

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