House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, wants to recognize Idaho's fourth-largest trading partner without offending anyone else in the process. Rusche's resolution honoring Taiwan passed the House today, though the vote was not unanimous.
The resolution recognizes Taiwan's government and private businesses for a strong relationship with the state. According to the resolution's text, Idaho exported $346 million in goods sold to the nation, including semiconductors, computers, food, and wood. Rusche's measure also honors the Taipei Flight Information Region, which enables more than 35 million airline passengers to travel safely to Taiwan's airports each year.
The resolution was originally withdrawn in the House State Affairs Committee due to its reference to global climate change, which committee members objected to. In the initial hearing on the measure, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, suggested Rusche withdraw it rather than have lawmakers vote it down, a move which Labrador feared could send a bad message from Idaho and make unneeded international news.
Rusche consented and subsequently withdrew the legislation. After retooling the language, he again pitched it the committee without mentioning climate change. The committee approved the measure on a unanimous vote.
On the House floor Tuesday, Rusche said the bill is a simple measure of recognition and not meant to get into deeper political matters. When questioned by Rep. Steven Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, about the bill's possible effects on the tedious relationship between Taiwan and China, Rusche assured him the resolution is not meant to get in the middle of the dispute.
During the first hearing on the resolution, Rusche said the bill would not "recognize one China over the other."
The measure was approved on a voice vote by representatives. The measure was not unanimous, but because it was a voice vote, there is no record of who voted against the resolution. It now heads to the Senate.
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