- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A bill to allocate $300,000 toward creation of a public defense commission passed the House 62-5 Wednesday.

The commission is meant to oversee Idaho’s struggling public defender system and provide training to attorneys.

The money will fund that training and allow the commission to hire an executive director and a part-time assistant.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho says setting up the commission falls far short of what is needed to repair an underfunded and overloaded system.

ACLU of Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins has previously estimated it will cost between $20 million and $30 million to right all the issues plaguing the state’s public defenders.

The group has warned that Idaho could find itself on the wrong end of a constitutional lawsuit if those problems aren’t addressed.

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