Posts tagged: 2012 Legislature
In an editorial in the Lewiston Tribune this morning, opinionator Marty Trillhaase writes that individuals opposed to Superintendent Tom Luna's education reforms already have won the first round. Whether or not referendums against those reforms pass this November, Trillhaase writes that the 2012 Idaho Legislature gave opponents most of what they wanted. “Instead of raiding the teacher salary account to advance LunaTech's aims, lawmakers agreed to steer any additional money they receive each year toward those programs. All of which is fine if the state is in clover. But the guaranteed future flow of state funds into online instruction has been stripped away. When Idaho hits another rough patch, how will lawmakers find money to continue LunaTech? Do they cut something else? Ignore demands from rising Medicaid or prison case loads? Raise taxes? Raid the teacher salary account once again?” More here.
Question: Did Luna “reforms” die quietly while we weren't watching?
Idaho's political round
Is clearly closed-primary bound.
When hot-button issues
Mean get out the tissues
It's lawmaking in ultrasound.
Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise (More here) (AP photo: Vote tally board on pre-abortion ultrasound issue in Virginia on Feb. 28)
With any luck, the Legislature will go home within a week. But will lawmakers take some positive actions in their remaining days in Boise to promote free markets and limited government? It might be surprising, but there are, in fact, several good pieces of legislation pending before lawmakers. Here’s a short wish list of actions lawmakers should take before adjourning:
Question: Do you support this agenda of Wayne Hoffman and the Idaho Freedom Foundation?
Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, chairman of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee, won't run for re-election, reports Clark Corbin, reporter for the Idaho Falls Post-Register. Corbin tweeted, “He will not seek re-election. Formal announcement coming today.” Lake, 74, is in his 8th term in the House; he's an agribusinessman and former school board member who holds an accounting degree from Brigham Young University/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise.
Question: Which member of the North Idaho delegation would you like to see retire?
Members of Occupy Boise today filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court, and U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill scheduled a hearing on it for 3 p.m. Friday. Bryan Walker, attorney for the group, said the group is trying to stop the eviction of the Occupy Boise vigil from state property across from the Capitol. “Our point is it's a violation not only of 1st Amendment rights, but 4th Amendment due process rights,” Walker said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you care one way or the other re: who wins the standoff between Idaho lawmakers & Occupy Boise?
Dalton Gardens Rep. Vito Barbieri proposed legislation this afternoon to ease Idaho's rules on sales of raw milk, and ran into opposition in the House Agriculture Committee, whose members noted that extensive work was done just last year to revise Idaho's rules for raw milk. “We did compromise a lot,” said Rep. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls. “This kinda takes a lot of that away.” Said Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, “I think this is opening the door that we tried to close last year.” Rep. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, said, “I'm concerned about this, because it pretty much opens it up to everybody. Pretty much anybody can produce raw milk and sell it.” Barbieri responded, “I believe you're correct”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (AP file photo for illustrative purposes)
Question: Would you like to see the rules eased for raw milk production in Idaho?
Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, said she originally thought the anti-Occupy bill, HB 404, sought to abridge 1st Amendment freedoms, but after reading an Attorney General's opinion and studying the law, concluded it didn't. “But the perception is still out there,” King said. “I've gotten emails from all over the state. They believe they are just expressing their rights to freedom of assembly.” She said, “I think the occupiers have pointed out issues that we should be working on,” from jobs to the homeless to drug and alcohol treatment. “As you vote, think about the image of Idaho — are we portraying an image of intolerance?”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Will Idaho appear intolerant if legislators boot Occupy Boise from Capitol area?
With talk of tax cuts — and less talk of a state-run health insurance exchange — Wayne Hoffman (pictured) is liking what he's hearing. Hoffman, the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a limited-government lobbying group, used his weekly column to give high marks to the start of the 2012 legislative session. And Hoffman didn't gloat about Gov. Butch Otter's $300 million gaffe on the health exchange, as the governor backed away from his claim that the feds would slash Idaho Medicaid payments if the state failed to create an exchange. Said Hoffman, “Otter acknowledged he misspoke.” I think Hoffman makes a good point on another issue: He suggests legislators move back the two-week candidate filing period — the current deadline is March 9 — and the May 15 primary election. He sees it as a transparency issue, since it would allow voters more time to review voting records/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Are you happy with what you're hearing at the beginning of the 2012 Idaho Legislature?
Aiming to leverage their limited numbers to win hearings on Democratic priorities, House Minority Leader John Rusche suggested Tuesday that his most-liberal members could vote with the most-conservative Republicans against creating a state-run health insurance exchange. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter wants to use $20.3 million in federal funding to establish an Idaho exchange, the online marketplace foreseen by the 2010 federal health care overhaul to help uninsured individuals and small businesses compare and buy coverage. But to do it, Otter needs at least 36 votes in the 70-member House. With many of the 57 GOP members, especially arch conservatives, likely to reject using federal money on philosophical grounds, Rusche, D-Lewiston, said his 13-member caucus could play a crucial role/John Miller, AP. More here.
Question: What do you make of the strategy outlined above of liberal Democrats joining hard line Republicans to block a state-run health insurance exchange?
With the state facing a budget surplus for the first time since the recession hit, Gov. Butch Otter says he wants to see “an Idaho focused not on scarcity or what we lack, but on a more prosperous and hopeful future for all of us.” He said, “It's with that Idaho in mind that I set my top two budget and policy priorities for 2012 and this legislative session. And the reality is, those two priorities are inseparable - jobs and education. Almost everything we do this year will have an impact on those two priorities”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Other early highlights from State of the State:
Question: Do you agree with Gov. Butch Otter that the 2012 legislative focus should be on education & jobs?
Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, pictured, responded to a request by former DUI driver Scott Andrus to abstain from alcohol during 2012 Legislature: “As a Catholic we receive the Body of Christ in two forms, His Body and Blood. Bread and wine served at the last supper symbolize the body and blood of our Savior. Many times during the Legislative session I attend Mass. Therefore for you to ask me to refrain from my religious celebrations is an invasion of my rights to freedom of religion. I am sure you have your personal religious beliefs and I would not invade on your beliefs. After all this is America the land of Freedom. I work hard to represent my constituents and understand the laws of Idaho concerning consumption of Alcoholic beverages.” Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise, puts the final count for those responding to his request at 18 for, one (Lodge) against, and 4 equivocal. More here.
You be a legislator: How would you respond to Andrus' request?
In the coming weeks, you’re going to be hearing a lot about the state’s budget – the fact that there’s a looming budget surplus and a host of government agencies begging for that money. At the same time, that surplus has ignited some desire to cut taxes. Lawmakers need to remember that when they vote to set a state budget and establish the tax policy that goes with that budget, what they’re really voting on is how much money to take out of the economy. They’re voting on how much money businesses, their employees, Idaho residents, charitable organizations and so on should not have because government supposedly needs it more. Some money is invariably necessary to provide services that fall under the heading of the “proper role of government.” … But it is important to remember that every penny that’s taken out of the private sector to run government programs and services and entitlements is a penny that isn’t available to the private sector for salaries and raises, to hire new employees or to make capital investments/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Should surplus money in the Idaho state budget be used to cut taxes or to expand state programs?