BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Senators approved Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's plan for a state-based insurance exchange, rather than letting the federal government establish one for Idaho instead. Thursday's 23-12 vote to send the measure to the House marks a key milestone for Otter's bill.

He maintains it will result in an online insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses that's less expensive and friendlier to Idaho insurers and agents than Washington, D.C.'s alternative. Republican Sen. John Tippets of Montpelier said he's among those who fiercely oppose President Obama's 2010 insurance overhaul.

But since an insurance exchange — state or federal — is a certainty come 2014, Tippets argued Idaho is better off if it's in control, not the federal government. Foes and supporters alike argued a "No" vote was a vote for Idaho's sovereignty.