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Posts tagged: Tom Loertscher

Trib: Loertscher Is ‘Voice Of Reason’

In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, opinionator Marty Trillhaase/Lewiston Tribune offers cheers to an unlikely reciprient — Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona:

“When it comes to enacting one of Obamacare's most sweeping change in the Gem State, Loertscher has become the voice of reason. Under Obamacare, Idaho can extend Medicaid to low-income adults. No state has more reason to act. Under a law Loertscher sponsored in 1992, state and county taxpayers now pay the cost of treatment for anyone deemed unable to pay his medical bills.This program now costs $55 million. Factor in medical inflation and rising case loads and taxpayers could pay as much as $77 million next year. “There's no end in sight,” Loertscher says. Unless Idaho agrees to expand Medicaid. Then, for the next three years, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost of covering an estimated 80,000 Idahoans. After that, the state's share would never exceed 10 percent.”

Question: Any legislator out there whom you want to give a shout out to today?

Richert: Ultrasound Battle May Return

Opinionator Kevin Richert/Idaho Statesman provides us with Wednesday editorial: “It’s a good outcome — even if it’s inconclusive. A bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion has been tabled for 2012. For the time being, score one for citizen engagement. For the Idahoans who stood up against intrusive, demeaning legislation. For the Idahoans who went to a conservative Statehouse to espouse conservative principles — personal privacy, and freedom from government mandate. This is a victory. But perhaps just a temporary one. On Tuesday, House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher put an end to the legislative limbo, saying his committee will not consider the ultrasound bill. But, if he’s re-elected, Loertscher he would work with anti-abortion groups on a new bill. What would it look like? Good question.” More here.

Question: Do you think this bill will be back in 2013 Legislature?

AM: Ultrasound Bill Dead For 2012

Kerry Uhlenkott, of Right to Life of Idaho, at podium, speaks to a crowd of 150 supporters of a bill to require an ultrasound be performed on women seeking an abortion in Idaho Monday on the steps of the Ohio Capitol in Boise. The rally was aimed at convincing lawmakers to resurrect the bill, which was sidelined last week on concerns in the Idaho House that it was a government overreach into the private lives of women and their doctors. This morning, State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher declared the bill dead for the 2012 Idaho Legislature. Story here. (AP/Statesman photo: Darin Oswald)

Panel KOs August Primary Proposal

The House State Affairs Committee has voted - with just two “no” votes from Reps. Tom Loertscher and Joe Palmer - to kill HB 392, the bill to move Idaho's primary election back to August. “I don't have any illusions about the outcome of this vote today, I can tell you that,” Loertscher, the bill's sponsor, told the committee that he chairs. He noted that he scheduled the hearing when county clerks were in town for their winter convention and could come testify without any additional expense. “This has been a healthy discussion, and I appreciate the time that the committee has taken,” he said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Edit: Primary Move To August Wrong

Kevin Richert/Idaho Statesman pulls the curtain back on the attempt by state Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, to move the primary election to August: “Don’t think for a minute that this has been proposed in the interest of good public policy. This is a cynical ploy. Self-preservation is usually a top-of-mind matter for politicians — and this is a particularly brazen example. Truth is, some lawmakers don’t like filing for re-election in late February or early March. After all, they are in Boise in the midst of a legislative session, while primary challengers can get the jump on campaigning. This timetable works best for voters, though, because it allows them to vote in a primary before the start of summer vacation season (and, while the actions and inactions of the most recent legislative session are fresh in their minds).” More here. (Joe Jaszewski Statesman photo of Rep. Tom Loertscher at today's anti-Occupy Boise hearing)

Question: Richert adds that a summer primary will further depress voter turnout, favoring the ideological few who will vote come hell or high water. Which a closed primary system also does. Do you get the impression that hardline Republicans want to ensure that only ideologically “pure” partisans are elected?

Legislators, Occupy Boise Face Off

Shavone Hasse of Parma is removed from the podium by Idaho State Trooper Ben Comorosky after Haase's testimony was cut-off by House State Affairs Committee chairman Thomas Leortscher, who deemed it a personal attack on Friday in Boise. Occupy Boise supporters came to the Legislature to protest a ban on their encampment, which has been erected on state land near the Capitol since November.  Republican House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke told the House State Affairs Committee that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that forbidding tents on the federal Capitol Mall didn't violate free-speech rights. (AP Photo/Idaho Statesman, Joe Jaszewski)

Eye On Boise coverage of Occupy Boise hearing:

Bill Would Move Primary To August

The House State Affairs Committee has voted unanimously to introduce two bills dealing with this year's primary election: One from committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, (pictured) to delay the state's primary from May to August while also doing away with the presidential primary; and one from Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to just do away with the presidential primary; it no longer serves any purpose since both parties now choose their presidential delegates by caucuses. Loertscher said he favors the shift of the primary to the later date because the move back in 1980 from August to May made for more months of campaigning. “The political season was extended in Idaho, which in my personal opinion is not a good thing,” Loertscher said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you prefer the primary election to be held in May or August?

Denney Gets Parting 2011 Jeer

JEERS … to Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale. The ethically challenged speaker had a banner year. Here's a sample:

  • He single-handedly blocked the House Revenue and Taxation Committee from even exploring the idea of joining a multi-state consortium pledged to help states collect the millions in sales tax due on Internet and catalog transactions.
  • After all but looking the other way at tax scofflaw and timber thief Rep. Phil Hart's transgressions, Denney pushed through new rules to keep preliminary investigations of legislator ethics violations out of the public view.
  • Which was convenient, considering the next blow-up involved Denney's colleague, State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona. A bill that might have hampered Loertscher's side of a road abandonment dispute in Bonneville County went from the House Transportation Committee, where it belonged, to Loertscher's desk drawer, where it disappeared. Denney arranged the re-routing.

Read all of Marty Trillhaase's year-end Cheers & Jeers column here.

Question: Which Idaho political leader would you Cheer or Jeer for his/her performance in 2011?

Trillhaase: Denney Protects Denney

Idaho always has tolerated an element of good old boy politics. Its lawmakers self-policed themselves. But at least when the political parties were more balanced, a natural tension kept legislators honest. The good old boys also operated under a honor system. In the Senate, a ethics review essentially ousted former Sen. Jack Noble, R-Kuna, who tried to promote a bill to profit himself. In the House, former Speaker Bruce Newcomb, R-Burley, once called an ethics probe on himself. Political balance no longer exists. The good old boys are gone. So is their political culture that held itself to an ethical standard. The sooner Idahoans realize that, the sooner they'll give the job of enforcing ethics to somebody else/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Is it time for ethical GOP lawmakers — if there are any of them with a backbone — to band together to remove Lawerence Denney from his role as House Speaker?

Kevin: Another Denney Ethics Mess

The Legislature’s most recent ethics investigation was hardly House Speaker Lawerence Denney’s finest moment. Hayden Republican Rep. Phil Hart relinquished his vice chairmanship of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee — which seemed only fitting, since the self-styled tax protester faced allegations of repeatedly blowing off filing deadlines. Denney pulled Hart from this powerful committee only after Hart gave the move his blessing. Denney seemed interested in providing a soft landing for an ideological ally, and far less interested in preserving the reputation of the House. What can Denney do for an encore? How about dropping the entire pretense of an ethics committee investigation? Denney has another problem on his hands, again involving a trusted foot soldier (Tom Loertscher)/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: What would a loyal foot soldier of House Speaker Denney have to do to get in real trouble in the Idaho House of Representatives?

Loertscher Blocks ‘Conscience’ Fixes

There are now three bills seeking to amend Idaho’s “conscience law” to protect patients’ living wills and advance care directives from being overridden by a caregiver as they’re dying, but one House committee chairman has buried all three in his desk drawer and refused to hold hearings on them. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said Monday, “Where we don’t want to go is we don’t want to compel the health care provider to assist somebody to commit suicide.” Asked if he was equating assisted suicide with living wills or advance care directives that call for disconnecting a dying patient’s artificial life supports, such as ventilators or feeding tubes, Loertscher said, “You could view it that way”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do ” conscience law” fixes supported by Idaho AARP and others deserve a hearing?

Oops: Loertscher Not Quoted Right

Huckleberries has learned from another reporter and 2 legislators who were present during today's House State Affairs Committee that Chairman Tom Loertscher wasn't the one who didn't know where Guatemala is. The punch line got mixed up. Loertscher told those assembled that his hair dresser didn't know where Guatemala was when she first started dating a man (who later became her husband) from there. Earlier today, Dustin Hurst, a reporter for the Idaho Reporter, tweeted a conversation that Loertscher related was between his hair stylist and him. The hair stylist admitted she was bad with geography and didn't know that Idaho Falls was north of Pocatello. Then came the comment about Guatemala that was inaccurately credited to Loertscher. Huckleberries regrets reprinting the error.

Loertscher May Kill Conscience Bill

House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, says he hasn't decided whether or not to allow a hearing on legislation from Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, to amend Idaho's “conscience law” to ensure that patients' living wills and advanced care directives are followed - but he's  leaning against it. “I'm prone not to,” Loertscher told Eye on Boise. “It's only been in effect for six months or less. Let's see how it goes for a while.” Loertscher also said, however, that he hasn't yet had a chance to read the bill, and he might decide to allow a hearing. As the chairman of the committee where the bill's been assigned, Loertscher can kill it simply by sticking it in his desk drawer and never scheduling a hearing on it/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Should there even be a question that this bill needs to move forward?

No Ethics Action On Phil Hart Today

Idaho's House Ethics Committee met behind closed doors for an hour and a half today, but reached no decisions and took no action. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, the committee chairman, said much of the time was spent going over materials the committee had requested from the Idaho Attorney General's office in regard to a complaint filed by Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, against Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, charging that Hart has violated his oath of office. There was also brief discussion of two citizen complaints that have been submitted to the committee, one from North Idaho political activist and Hart supporter Larry Spencer against Anderson, and one from Hayden businessman and former Hart write-in election challenger Howard Griffiths against Hart/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.


Misadventures In Idaho’s Frat House

House Speaker Lawerence Denney (pictured) and Rep. Tom Loertscher have pulled off the nearly impossible. They’re making themselves look almost as bad as state Rep. Phil Hart, the Legislature’s resident tax dodger and timber hound. … By now, the allegations against Hart are well-established: the self-styled tax protestor owes hundreds of thousands in back taxes, interest and penalties to the state and the feds; he has repeatedly tried to delay tax cases by invoking legislative immunity from arrest or civil filings; he cut down timber from state endowment lands — and, 14 years later, finally got around to sending what he called a “donation.” …  Here’s another thing about an ethics complaint: The process reflects well, or poorly, on the people in charge. Denney’s performance has been pathetic at best/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you think more/less of House Speaker Lawerence Denney & Rep. Tom Loertscher as a result of their involvement in Phil Hart’s misadventures?

Shawn: Holdout Loertscher Has Point

So it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that (Rep. Tom) Loertscher is ethically dim. Craven. Corrupt. I had my brickbats ready. But then, as we talked about it, I started seeing his point. Sort of. “I’m not a fan of Phil Hart’s, but I think he deserves a fair shake in this,” he said. “By that, I mean I’m not trying to defend him or his behavior. I don’t think that’s appropriate for me to do. I think it’s up to the voters. … I would not have pursued this as he did.” Loertscher says the ethics committee has already ruled on the tax question, and he’s right, however lousy that ruling was. He’s one of the people responsible for its lousiness. As for the theft of the logs, it did happen 14 years ago, before Hart was a lawmaker. Still, I’m not persuaded/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Should Tom Loertscher be chairing the House Ethics Committee hearing into a complaint about Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol?

Rammell, Loertscher, & Hart, Oh My

Embroiled in a scandal? Caught breaking the ethical rules? Facing a criminal charge? Guilty as hell? Come to the firm of Rammell, Loertscher and Hart. Former Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rex Rammell, state Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, and state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol have pioneered innovative ways to excuse, explain away or just outright stampede any and all allegations of impropriety/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Marty Trillhaase that Rex Rammell, Tom Loertscher, & Phil Hart have raised the bar for explaining away bad behavior?

Loertscher Still Lone Ally

Mebbe it’s not surprising that House Ethics Committee chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Ione, was doing everything possible to give Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, a pass during the panel hearing today. Loertscher was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote by the committee to look more deeply into the complaints against Athol’s Artful Tax Dodger. Loertscher was then Rep. Bill Sali’s only ally in a tax bill showdown with House Speaker Bruce Newcomb. When Sali lost the showdown, Newcomb temporarily stripped Sali and Loertscher of all committee assignments until he was persuaded to backtrack by his chief lieutenant, then Majority Leader Lawerence Denney. Denney, now the House speaker, advised Newcomb then: ” “When you root with pigs, you get dirty. Don’t stoop to their level,” Denney advised. You can read Dan Popkey’s report archived report about the showdown here (thanks to Fork in comments section). Sali, of course, went on to become a one-term congressman, and Loertscher is heading a committee in which he appears to be the one unabashed ally of Rep. Phil Hart.

Question: Is Loertscher the right guy to chair the House Ethics Committee in dealing with complaints about Phil Hart’s conduct?

Parting Shot — 9.22.10

House Ethics Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, and Vice Chair Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, talk before the panel’s  hearing Wednesday began on the conduct of Rep. Phil  Hart, R-Athol. Shortly before the hearing began, Jaquet announced the arrival of a new grandson. (SR photo: Betsy Russell)

Hart Plans To Respond To Ethics Panel

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, had this response today to the convening of the newly appointed House Ethics Committee: “I guess I would say I’m anxious to get through the process, and I’m confident everything’s going to work out OK for me.” Hart said he’s received the formal letter from committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, “and I do plan on responding to it”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

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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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