Posts tagged: Brent Hill
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, has a guest opinion in the Idaho Falls Post Register today lauding Idaho’s decision to establish a state health insurance exchange. Under the headline “Going our own way,” Hill writes, “The choice last year was never between a state-run exchange and no exchange at all. That option had been denied by the courts. It was a choice between state involvement and total federal control. Those states that ignored the law relinquished control to the federal government. Idaho refused to surrender its decision-making authority over health care issues.”
Hill writes, “While the residents of other states have been strapped by a 3.5 percent premium tax to fund the federal exchange, Idaho has kept fees at only 1.5 percent. Idaho's health insurance rates continue to be among the lowest in the country. While the federal exchange requires detailed personal information in order to access its exchange, Idaho allows persons to browse plans and check rates anonymously.” Click below for his full article.
Idaho newest state legislators are on the job today, attending the first day of orientation for the record-tying 2013 Legislature's freshman class of 44. As they arrived for an opening lunch, many were greeted in the Capitol basement hallway by Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, who's among three candidates vying for House majority caucus chair. In a large basket, she had energy bars for each new representative, from either party, along with a cheery welcome note saying, “A little something to help you keep your energy up this week.” Here, at right, Perry presents one to new Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, telling him, “You're going to need plenty of energy.”
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, welcomed the group at a lunch in the Capitol dining room, to kick off an afternoon devoted to sessions on legislative process, staff, the state Capitol and administrative procedures; the orientation continues Tuesday and Wednesday. Hill told the large group, “Can you believe it - you're here? And you have this kind of a responsibility?” He said, “It's really an honor for us to be here. With that honor comes a lot of responsibility as well.” Hill asked the new lawmakers to each introduce themselves. “I feel like the first day of school - excited,” said new Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise. “I even got a new tie.” New Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, said, “As the pro-tem said, just to walk into this place - it gives you chills.”
Denney, who's fighting to keep the speaker's post in a challenge from House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, told the group he wanted to “welcome you all to the goldfish bowl,” saying, “Everything you do here is going to be observed.” Said Denney, “I can tell you that there's a lot of opportunity to do things that really don't bring honor to you.”
Referencing the frequent evening receptions sponsored by lobbyists and interest groups, Denney said there's plenty of opportunity to imbibe too much. “If you drink too much, I'm going to give each and every one of you my cell phone number, because I will come and take you home,” Denney promised. He also advised new lawmakers to use the restroom at every opportunity during sessions, “Because you never can tell when there might be a call of the House, and the doors are locked and you can't get out.”
Fourth-term state Rep. Bob Nonini is running for the Senate, but his actions in the primary - pouring thousands into the campaigns of unsuccessful challengers to several sitting GOP lawmakers, including three senators - could make him an unpopular arrival there. “I'm getting back-door support from moderate Republicans,” said his Democratic challenger, Kristy Reed Johnson. “Mr. Nonini has left the center of the party.” Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, says, “I'm going to have some bridge-building to do, I'm sure. And I'm confident that I can do that.”
It's the hottest race in North Idaho's District 3, a heavily GOP legislative district that nevertheless has Democrats mounting challenges for all three seats. Johnson's husband, Ronald K. Johnson, is challenging Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; while fourth-time Democratic candidate David Larsen is up against GOP primary winner Ron Mendive for Nonini's old House seat. But the action clearly revolves around Nonini, who affronted the very GOP caucus he hopes to join in the Senate with his controversial moves in the primary.
“Obviously, it's going to be somewhat awkward for him,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “I certainly don't condone what he did and I don't appreciate what he did. Sanctions, disciplinary action, those are all possibilities.” Hill added, “I've talked to Rep. Nonini, I went to his home and visited with him and his wife, and you know, we want to be able to help him to be successful as a state senator. But we have to look after the whole body, and make sure that we're successful for the people as a whole.” You can read my full story here from today's Spokesman-Review.
Campaign finance reports show that Idaho state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, has reimbursed the Senate for the cost of an end-of-session letter she sent out to Republican voters that touted her record and thanked supporters as she seeks re-election. Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said he initially thought the letter only skated close to the line between campaign material and mere information, but after learning that it was sent only to Republicans, he called Nuxoll to discuss it.
“We just visited about it, and I said I thought it would be best if she reimbursed for all of it,” Hill said this week. “It was a mutual agreement. If I hadn't suggested it, she would have by the end of our conversation.” Nuxoll's post-primary election campaign finance report shows that she paid $890.09 to the Idaho State Senate on May 5 for a category of expenditures that takes in literature, brochures and printing. Nuxoll said today, “I wasn't legally liable, but you see the records.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Kris Sabo of Sagle was surprised when an official state-funded letter arrived in the mail from Idaho Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, talking about Nuxoll's record and thanking supporters as she seeks re-election. “My gosh, she's from Cottonwood – where the heck is that?” Sabo asked. “If she's using our money to help her campaign to keep her job, that shows disrespect for our money. Nobody's going to pay for me to go out and try to keep my job.”
Sabo currently is in Idaho's legislative District 2, one of the North Idaho Panhandle legislative districts. But redistricting in Idaho will put her in the new District 7 next year, which stretches from southeastern Bonner County all the way south to the Valley County line at the mid-section of the state; Cottonwood is nearly a four-hour drive south of Sagle.
Though state senators can send out taxpayer-funded mailings, up to a $2,000 annual limit, this one's raising eyebrows because Nuxoll sent it to about 1,700 Republicans not only in her current district, but also in the new district she'd represent if she wins another term. “I just approached it as informing people. This is an informational letter,” Nuxoll said. “There might have been one negative comment.” She added that she sent it just to Republicans “because I am a Republican and I had to limit the number of letters going out to keep under my limit by the state.”
Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, says he wishes he'd addressed the old district/new district issue with senators, but since it only comes up every 10 years – when new legislative districts take effect – no one thought of it. “We probably should have discussed it and maybe even got some kind of ruling from the Attorney General's office,” Hill said. “We did not do that.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and click below for the full text of Nuxoll's letter.