- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A key legislative leader on Thursday promised to reintroduce next year a proposal amending Idaho’s constitution to expand the rights of crime victims after his original version failed to move out of the Statehouse earlier this year.

Senate Majority Caucus Chair Todd Lakey, a Republican from the southwestern city of Nampa, said he will bring back his proposal during the 2018 legislative session.

“I know that Idahoans across the state support the rights of victims,” Lakey said. “But over the past 20 years, our provisions are in need of updating.”

Lakey made the announcement with the support of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who has signed a proclamation dedicating this week to raising awareness of crime victims’ rights.

“Anything and everything we can do to alert the general citizenry that we do have certain services available, from government options to the private sector, will help overcome the results of victimization,” Otter said. “Most importantly, it lets them know they are not alone in that time of crisis and in that time of need.”

The proposal would have changed the Victim Rights Amendment inside the state constitution, which Idaho voters ratified in 1994. The current amendment details rights for victims. However, advocates of the change have said it does not do enough and need to be updated.

Under Lakey’s amendment, victims would have to be notified of all court proceedings involving suspects and be heard at each step of the legal process.

It also would declare that full and timely restitution from economic losses due to a crime is not only a right but also should be prioritized.

The proposal passed the Senate unanimously during this year’s legislative session, but stalled in the House after a legislative panel spent days listening to testimony and debating the merits of the bill.

The bill eventually failed 10-5 in the House State Affairs Committee after critics - including the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho - argued that the proposal would increase workloads and create a financial burden on already cash-strapped criminal justice system.

The amendment, called Marsy’s Law for Idaho, is named for a California woman killed in 1983 by her ex-boyfriend after he was released from jail without her being notified.

Her brother, Henry Nicholas, has financed the effort to expand it to more states.

Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota have adopted similar amendments.

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