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The Associated Press February 22, 2010, 2:06PM ET

Idaho House panel backs amendment to help cities

The House moved closer to helping cities like Idaho Falls grapple with a 2006 Idaho Supreme ruling that cast doubt on their ability to sign long-term contracts to buy electricity without voter approval.

The State Affairs Committee Monday backed a constitutional amendment to clear up confusion for 11 Idaho cities that buy power from the Bonneville Power Administration and others.

It still must secure two-thirds House and Senate support to be put on the November 2010 ballot.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court ruled the Idaho Constitution's anti-debt provisions prevented Boise from financing an airport parking garage without asking residents first.

Monday's measure is one of three proposed constitutional amendments aimed at clarifying just when local governments can finance projects, if no taxpayer money is used to repay debt.

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