Sixteen House GOP freshmen gathered in a Statehouse press conference this morning to announce that if the trailer bill introduced this morning by freshman Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, passes, they will support the governor’s state health insurance exchange bill, SB 1042. “That’s why we’re here,” said Rep. Kelly Packer, R-McCammon, to nods all around.
The group formed after hallway conversations, the freshmen said, over how they oppose the national health care reform law, but don’t like the idea of just letting the federal government do as it wishes and run a federal exchange in Idaho. Malek said, “The Legislature needs information that will allow us to decide whether our state exchange is providing us a seat at the table or forcing us merely to be a puppet for the federal government.”
“We’re freshmen,” said Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa. “I think everybody here recognizes the fact that individually we have no influence. ... Let’s stand together.”
Malek said he’s “honored” to work with the group of freshman lawmakers, saying, “We have spent a lot of time together.” Malek said, “They have shown passion, integrity. … Their mission is to protect individual rights and state sovereignty.”
Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, said, “Legislation is a complicated process. … None of us liked the choices that we were given. None of us felt the protections in the existing bill were adequate. So we formed this group. We can pretty well say no state act will pass without our support, and the current bills did not garner our support. So this is an attempt, we believe, to end up with more assurances, better protections, and represent our constituents.”