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Posts tagged: idaho legislature

IPT: Legislature’s Loss, UI’s Gain

The Idaho Press-Tribune has only good things to say about state Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, who has decided to leave the Legislature to become a lobbyist for the University of Idaho. The Nampa-Caldwell paper wonders if Far Right ideology drove Stegner out: “Perhaps Sen. Stegner’s stand against the so-called “loyalty oath” supported by the right wing of the Republican Party is what led to his decision to leave the Senate. Only a few months ago he spoke out against the oath: “It seems to be directed at purifying the party. It smacks of some rather heavy-handed party membership requirements that I think in the last century have certainly been abused in any number of nations, and I don’t think that’s the direction America should be going”/Idaho Press Tribune. More here.

Question: Are party and legislative ideologues muzzling debate by driving off members who aren't 100 percent behind current Idaho Republican leadership?

Senator Defends Staff Bonuses

Reports of Idaho state workers receiving bonuses or salary increases may have raised eyebrows or outcry with some, but Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, who works closely with legislative staff and helps write the state budget, said he’s reviewed the bonuses for lawmakers’ staff and is fine with it. “I certainly didn’t see anything that I would consider to be inappropriate,” Cameron said about bonuses paid out to workers at the Legislative Services Office (LSO).  All LSO employees received a bonus of more than $1,200 this year, for a total more than $90,000.  Those bonuses were within LSO’s budget for the fiscal year. Agency head Jeff Youtz said the payments came after several years of stalled wages and were recognition and compensation for workers doing less with more as the agency reduced its overall staff/Brad Iverson-Long, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Legislators and their hired hands don't get it, do they?

Director defends Public Staff Bonuses

Item: Legislative services director defends staff bonuses/Ben Botkins, Twin Falls Times-News

More Info: The state Legislative Services Office director is defending bonuses paid to all his agency's staffers, telling legislators email that rewarding and motivating employees, especially in tough times, is part of his duty. LSO Director Jeff Youtz's note to lawmakers came on Monday, following media reports about $167,000 in one-time bonuses for 102 state employees at six agencies. The bulk of that - almost $95,000 - went to LSO staffers, who each got a bonus ranging from $1,281 to $1,984, records show.

Question: Jeff Youtz seems to think that employees who go above & beyond the call of duty in these hard economic times deserve a bonus (even if it comes from taxpayer money). Using Youtz's measuring stick, do you deserve a bonus for your work, too?

Statesman: Staff Bonuses Wrong

The $94,633 in bonuses to legislative staffers isn’t enough to break the state budget. But these ill-timed, one-time payments are big enough to look bad. They leave the perception — accurate or not — that the policymakers are taking care of their own, while stiffing other hard-working and deserving state employees. They send a message — intended or not — that there are winners and losers in a public workforce that extends from the Statehouse to public schools and college campuses. To say nothing of the message to the private sector. Any goodwill and employee loyalty these bonuses purchase will come at a steep collateral cost/Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Should Idaho legislators be giving bonuses to staffers at a time when they're slashing education, Medicaid, Health & Welfare, and other important budgets?

Marty: Budget Writers Proven Wrong

Idaho is still in the economic doldrums. Unemployment is higher than the national average. A large number of people are in poverty. Many homeowners are under water on their mortgages. Yet the state budget is chalking up surpluses. How come? Simply put, the surpluses are a mirage. They would not exist if lawmakers hadn't cut schools, higher education and health care programs more severely than necessary. A few professionals tried to warn them. Among them was the state's former chief economist, Mike Ferguson/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Marty Trillhaase that deep cuts made to public education, Medicaid, and other essential Idaho services were ill-advised and unnecessary?

Idaho Legislature Isn’t Zaniest In NW

You want goofy (writes editorialist Marty Trillhaase/Lewiston Tribune)? Consider these proposals:

  • Adopting the Code of the West - “Live each day with courage … ride for the brand … remember that some things aren't for sale. …” as the code of the state.
  • Legalizing hunting with a hand-thrown spear.
  • Allowing guns in schools.
  • Creating fully armed militias for every town.
  • Omitting Obama's name from the 2012 ballot.
  • Authorizing hunters to use silencers.
  • Challenging the federal government to a fight over ownership of the national parks.
  • Giving an 11-member panel authority to defy any federal law.

Where would you locate this league of lunacy? Boise? Try Helena. Montana's Legislature has considered each one of those ideas. More here.

Question: Are you disappointed that there's a Legislature in the Northwest that's zanier than Idaho's?

SR: Idaho Abortion Law Legally Shaky

Idaho is among several states where the fetal-pain strategy is being carried out. The Nebraska Legislature passed such a law last year and the governor signed it. Kansas passed one recently, and it awaits the governor’s signature. The Idaho attorney general’s office issued an opinion that the Idaho version would not pass constitutional muster, but lawmakers want to spend taxpayer dollars to find out for themselves. This is foolhardy, given the nearly three-quarters of a million dollars the state has spent on futile court battles over previous anti-abortion laws. It is especially conspicuous in a year where more than $90 million in painful budget cuts were approved/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Is it wise for a state to pass constitutionally questionable legislation that's likely to lead to a futile court battle and waste money?

Abortion Bill Allows No Rape Exception

The bill makes no exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality or the mental or psychological health of the mother; only when the pregnancy threatens the mother's life or physical health could a post-20-week abortion be performed. An Idaho Attorney General's opinion said the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the Roe vs. Wade decision regarding state restrictions on abortions prior to the point of fetal viability; but backers said they're prepared to defend it in court. “Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked Rep. Shannon McMillan (pictured), R-Silverton. “It didn't ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you support this bill?

Legislature Unfriending Lots Of Folks

If you're wealthy, straight, don't belong to a union and have no disabilities, the Idaho Legislature likes you. But if you take part in any social services, are gay or lesbian, have disabilities, belong to a union or live in the wrong area, most state lawmakers don't like you. Lawmakers certainly don't like teachers. If they did, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter wouldn't be singing the praises of public schools chief Tom Luna's plan to get rid of more than 700 teachers. The fact that even school board members and school administrators have called Luna's plan unacceptable means nothing. The idea of enlarging classroom sizes to pay for Luna's “reforms” indicates Idaho doesn't care about its children, either/Sandra Kelly, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.

Question: Would you un-Friend the 2011 Idaho Legislature based on its votes, actions, and comments so far this session?

No Hearing Set For Anti-Bias Bill

Since 2007, state lawmakers have rejected legislation to ban discrimination in Idaho against people who are gay, lesbian or transgender. And Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie says this year will be no different. McKenzie chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee and says he doesn't plan to schedule a hearing on a bill introduced in the 2011 session to ban workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/Associated Press. More here.


Kos: Idaho Solons Deaf To Fed Law

Despite the testimony from Idaho's (Republican) attorney general that a proposed law nullifying the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional, the House State Affairs Committee voted 14-5 last week to approve the bill. One Republican lawmaker (Eric Anderson, R-Priest River, pictured) on the committee joined with four Democrats. … The majority, however, were in league with one of the know-nothing teabaggers in attendance at a hearing on the law: “I wasn't going to speak until I heard the self-proclaimed scholar,” Bruce Nave, a resident of rural Sweet, north of Boise, told the panel. “We as citizens are tired of being lorded over by representatives. We're not conspiracy theorists. We aren't kooks. No one is going to force me to buy anything.” Law, schmaw. If I don't agree with it, the hell with the rule of law. This “the hell with the Constitution” aspect of the nullification effort — alive and well not just in Idaho but in eleven others states — is disturbing, particularly coming from people who are making laws/Joan McCarter, Daily Kos. More here.

Question: What do you make of situations, like the nullification effort in the Idaho Legislature, when lawmakers knowingly defy the U.S. Constitution?

Bubblehead gets ripped off in Boise

Bubblehead on Thursday Wild Card 2.10.11 on February 11 at 8:18 a.m.

Here’s what happened to me at the Education hearing yesterday. Short story, the committee secretary ripped a political pamphlet from my hand, and a Capitol policeman attempted to intimidate me (in my opinion) when I complained about it.

Wow! Senate education secretary confiscates satirical handout, complains about rude people, bemoans her assignment and Bubblehead gets in trouble

Bubblehead asks: So, what do you think? Was I being a jerk to a poor young lady just trying to do her job? Or should I have stood up even more against what was clearly a violation of my First Amendment rights, let alone my property rights?

Nullification bill moves on to full House

The substitute motion, to send the nullification bill, HB 117, to the full House with no recommendation, failed on a 5-14 vote. The original motion, to send it to the House with a recommendation that it pass, then passed 14-5, though a couple of votes switched; Rep. Jim Guthrie, who made the substitute motion, voted in favor of the original motion, and Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, voted against both.

Among those supporting the original motion: Rep. Erik Simpson, while thanking University of Idaho constitutional scholar David Adler for addressing the committee and saying “I really value his opinion,” referred to a headline in the Christian Science Monitor saying the federal government would push ahead with health care reform despite a Florida judge's ruling. Betsy Russell, EOB More.


Panel passes tribal policing bill

The House Judiciary Committee has voted 8-6 to send the tribal policing bill to the full House with a recommendation that it “do pass.” Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d'Alene, voted with the majority in favor. “It was a safety issue,” she said. “Kootenai County has done a wonderful job.”

She said testimony from Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson was particularly convincing. Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, said, “I'm excited. … I think this is the right thing to do.” Betsy Russell, EOB

Hats off to Betsy who did another excellent job reporting from the Capitol, in what proved to be a VERY long day.

Vestal: Children’s rights don’t play in Idaho house

Kids in Idaho could use a right or two.

Or maybe just a hand. About half are living in “low-income” homes. A fifth live in homes headed by single mothers, whose unemployment rate is twice that of married men and women. The state ranks 41st for overall child health and well-being, according to a new scorecard.

Too bad the state House of Representatives is primarily concerned about their parents.

And the Constitution, of course.

You might have missed this, but the Idaho House, faced with all the woes of our day, voted for a nonbinding memorial Monday to support amending the Constitution to protect parental rights.

Protect them from whom, you might ask.

But don’t be silly. From the government. Federal, state and water district. From courts and schools. From international treaties that try to assert the rights of children. From the red-hot threat that our constitutional parental rights are dangling by a thread. Shawn Vestal, SR Read more.

Nonini said, “Longstanding constitutional rights are now hanging by a precarious thread.” Agree or disagree?

Ethics rule changes go to the House for vote

House Speaker Lawerence Denney, after introducing proposed changes in House ethics rules on Tuesday. The rules clarify that only House members - not just anyone - can file complaints, and add a clause for ethics violations that consist of “conduct unbecoming a member of the House.”

The House State Affairs Committee has approved legislation from Speaker Lawerence Denney making changes in the House's ethics rules, and sent it on to the full House for a vote, where it needs two-thirds approval to pass. The key change: Clarifying that “any member” of the House, not just “any person,” can file an ethics complaint against another member.

This year, the House received two ethics complaints from citizens, one from Hayden businessman Howard Griffiths, a write-in candidate this year against Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, against Hart; and one from Hart supporter Larry Spencer against Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, who had filed an ethics complaint against Hart. Both were found to be without basis and “frivolous.” Betsy Russell, EOB  Read more.


Luna: People riled up

State schools Supt. Tom Luna pitches his education reform legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Monday, at the first of four days of hearings on the two-bill package.

There's been “an organized attempt to get people riled up” over his school reform plan, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna told the Senate Education Committee. He said people have focused on his proposals to require online courses, provide a laptop for every high school student and increase class sizes in grades 4-12 rather than his proposals to eliminate tenure for new teachers and make other changes to teacher contracts, because “those issues don't get people riled up.” Betsy Russell, EOB More.

So. Are you riled up?

House hears Nonini’s resolution re: parental rights

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, argues in the House on Monday for his resolution backing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution supporting parental rights.

The Idaho House is now debating a resolution pushed by Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, backing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution promoting parental rights, and opposing the United States ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that already has been ratified by 194 nations - all nations except the United States and Somalia. “Such enumeration of these rights in the text of the Constitution will preserve them from being infringed upon by the shifting ideologies and interpretations of the United States Supreme Court,” the non-binding measure, HJM 1, declares.

Nonini said the proposed amendment “will not alter the current state of parental rights in this country. It will simply ensure that our current rights will remain free from erosion due to judicial activism” or international law. Nonini said he's convinced there's risk. “Longstanding constitutional rights are now hanging by a precarious thread,” he told the House. Read more. Betsy Russell, EOB

Do we need this change to the U.S. Constitution?

Update: House passes parental rights memorial after much debate.

Solons Target Child Rights Treaty

Item: Idaho lawmakers target child rights treaty/Jessie L. Bonner, Associated Press

More Info: Opponents of the treaty contend it would enable the government and U.N. officials to interfere with parental authority. Supporters view the treaty as a valuable guidepost for children’s basic rights, such as education, health care and protection from abuse, saying the goals are undermined by the refusal of the world’s lone superpower to ratify it.

Question: Where do you come down on the children's global rights treaty?

INW: NIdaho Tech School Bill Dies

Pecky Cox/As The Lake Churns (& Priest Lake Photos Facebook page) provides another example of her spectacular photography of Priest Lake nature-scapes above.

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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