April 12, 2009 in Idaho Voices

Idaho House OKs bill banning purchase of non-U.S.-made flags

Betsy Z. Russell
 

BOISE – Rep. Marge Chadderdon, R-Coeur d’Alene, who said a day earlier she was introducing a new version of her flag manufacturing bill, instead urged the House to pass it as-is this week, and they did, 67-0.

“I know you’re waiting for this bill,” Chadderdon told the House.

She said she determined that the bill, as earlier amended, complies with an Idaho Attorney General’s opinion that she received.

Before the amendment, the bill banned the purchase of Idaho or U.S. flags not manufactured in the United States by Idaho state agencies or local governments, but also included a clause saying if such flags were purchased, the agencies wouldn’t have to pay for them. An amendment sponsored by Reps. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, and Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, removed that clause.

“As the bill reads today, it’s not in conflict with interstate commerce. … So I want you to feel good about this vote today,” Chadderdon said.

She told the House, “We’ve come to regard the flag as the embodied symbolism of our country and its unity. … It’s as old as our country and is often regarded as the living history on fabric.” The House passage sends the bill, HB 249a, to the Senate.

Bill on ‘educaton’ killed

It’s not actually in the bill, but for some reason, there was a continuing typo in the House calendar in reference to SB 1159, legislation proposed by Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, to eliminate what he says is a financial incentive for school districts to de-consolidate. The calendar, for days, referred to the bill as “SB 1159, Nielsen(22), by Judiciary and Rules Committee - EDUCATON.”

Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, the floor sponsor, made no reference to the typo as he presented the bill, which drew opposition from representatives who had school districts de-consolidate in their districts.

Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, said they shouldn’t be “punished” for reflecting the wishes of their communities. Nielsen said having more districts costs more. “I don’t call it a penalty, I call it being realistic,” he told the House. But the bill was defeated, on a 25-45 vote. It had earlier passed the Senate on a 23-10 vote.

CAT fund changes pass

Legislation to make several changes in the way Idaho funds catastrophic health care costs for the indigent – including upping the deductible for counties from $10,000 per case to $11,000, while instituting cost-saving measures – has passed the House on a 54-15 vote, but only after long and strenuous debate from opponents.

House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, told the House, “We are going to cause an automatic property tax increase.” Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, who spoke at length and then rose and debated against the bill for a second time, said a property tax increase would hurt farmers, ranchers and the elderly.

Gov. Butch Otter had originally called for upping the counties’ deductibles to $15,000. House Health and Welfare Chairwoman Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, told the House the bill was developed after nine weeks of negotiations with stakeholders on all sides, spurred by Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. “When the bill was heard in the Health & Welfare Committee, there was no testimony in opposition,” she said. “This bill is designed to save money for the state, the counties, the hospitals and the taxpayers.” The bill, SB 1158, earlier passed the Senate unanimously; it now goes to the governor’s desk.

Now how did that happen?

The collection of “Lost and Found” items at the information desk in the Capitol Annex has included various items all session, like a broken umbrella, a set of car keys, etc. It’s been growing, however. And this week, the collection included, among other items, a tie, a scarf, a belt, a reporter’s notebook, an earring, and oddest of all, a pair of women’s silver spike-heeled pumps. How does one walk off without those?

One way to fund roads

Legislation to sell commemorative gold medallions to benefit the state highway account has passed the House on a 44-19 vote. “We should be creative and industrious and proactive and bold, and we should have tools like this in our toolbox … to address highway funding,” Rep. Russ Mathews, R-Idaho Falls, told the House. He said he’s heard from “people anxious and willing to purchase medallions.”

Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, spoke against the bill, saying he feared the new transportation medallions would compete with the state’s existing silver medallions that benefit veterans. Others questioned how the state could effectively market the medallions But Mathews said, “I’m confident that we could initially sell quite a few.” The bill now moves to the Senate.

Garwood project could grow

A three-mile stretch at the south end of the Garwood-to-Sagle project on U.S. Highway 95 in North Idaho would be eligible to be added to the bond-funded project, under legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls. The stretch, from Wyoming Avenue to State Highway 53, is two lanes – though Highway 95 is four lanes just south of there, and it’ll be four lanes north of there as a result of the Garwood-to-Sagle project. Henderson said when the project was designated, its southern end point was never specifically pinpointed. “Garwood itself is not a point on a map,” he said. “It’s a rural community, it’s unincorporated. … It’s an area.”

His legislation wouldn’t guarantee any funding, but by making it eligible to be part of the bond-funded project, it could qualify if money is available, Henderson said. Already this year, bids have been coming in so much lower than expected on GARVEE bond-funded projects that they’ve saved $36 million. If the money were available and the Idaho Transportation Board decided to spend it to take that three-mile stretch up to four lanes to match what’ll be north and south of it, it’d cost $15.5 million, Henderson said.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or bzrussell@gmail.com. For more news from Boise go to www.spokesman.com/boise.


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