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House votes to approve fee hike on death certificates

House votes to approve fee hike on death certificates

Dustin Hurst
March 1, 2010
Dustin Hurst
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March 1, 2010

The Idaho House voted Monday to approve a $1 fee increase on the cost of death certificates issued by the state.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace, said the money generated would aid in the training of country coroners and other emergency personnel who help perform autopsies or determine the cause of death.  In the committee hearing on the bill, Gibbs estimated the fee hike would raise approximately $50,000 for coroner training.  The state currently charges $13 per copy for death certificates.

Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot, opposed the legislation because he feels enough governmental entities take portions of the current fee assessed for certificates, and the move would hurt families who don't have an option of purchasing the document.

Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, also urged lawmakers to vote against the bill on that grounds that the state shouldn't raise fees in such an unnecessary area when state budgets are facing steep cuts in more vital areas, such as education.

Rep. Anne Pasley-Stuart, D-Boise, spoke in favor of the bill, saying that low requirements for election of coroners necessitate the need for the training, which costs about $2,800 for each week-long session.

"We have to get them certified," said Pasley-Stuart.

Gibbs' co-sponsor on the bill, Rep. Tom Loerthscher, R- Iona, said the fee increase would aid smaller counties that have part-time coroners and lack resources to pay for ongoing education.

"I don't like fee increases ... I don't think they are proper in every case," said Loertscher, who added that this is one instance in which fee increases are necessary and proper.

Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, provided the final voice of opposition to the fee hike.  Barrett questioned the Gibbs' bill, asking if coroners haven't been performing adequately.  She also urged lawmakers to avoid "nickel and diming" citizens.

"This is not the right time to be doing it and not the right reason to be doing it," said Barrett.

The bill passed the House 47-23 and now heads to the Senate.

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