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Brad Little To Be Sworn In As Idaho Governor Today

State of Idaho

Idaho will undergo a leadership transition today when Brad Little replaces Butch Otter as governor.

Yesterday, the current governor joined the future governor in honoring a past governor. Otter and Little honored Phil Batt for his service to the state. They gave Batt the state’s Medal of Achievement, citing his work in supporting human rights, including creating a Commission on Human Rights, and a state minimum wage.

Batt served one term as governor in the late 1990s. He was also lieutenant governor and a state senator.

Today, Otter cedes authority after 12 years in the governor’s mansion to the current lieutenant governor. Little will take the oath as the state’s next chief executive and give his State of the State address to the legislature on Monday.

Little spoke with reporters Thursday in the state’s annual legislative preview, touching on several topics. He promised to enforce the Medicaid expansion initiative approved in November by voters. But he says he wants to make sure the expansion doesn’t give people incentive not to work.

Following Little at the preview was House Speaker Republican Scott Bedke. He was asked whether he supports requirements that Medicaid recipients work to pay for their benefits. He says he supports Little’s view that enrollment in Medicaid expansion should be a springboard for recipients to strive for a better situation.

“A work requirement, while that sounds good in certain circles, a training requirement or being on a track that puts you to a better place, is probably the responsible thing to do with taxpayer dollars,” Bedke said.

House Minority Leader Democrat Mat Erpelding sees it differently.

“What we’re going to find is implementing work requirements in the state of Idaho is going to cost even more money. It isn’t going to be money that is matched by the feds. It’s going to be money that the state of Idaho has to put up in order to enforce that by creating a huge bureaucratic machine in order to check whether or not people are working," Erpelding said. "In the end, I actually think the majority will decide that this is really a fiscally irresponsible plan.”

Bedke, Erpelding and the other participants on the legislative panel said they all have good relationships with the governor-elect and look forward to working with him.