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Eye on Boise: Freshman rep’s son crafts, defends anti-EPA resolution

Sun., Feb. 27, 2011

BOISE – New state Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, introduced her first bill last week, but it’s actually from her son, Wallace attorney James McMillan. She told the House State Affairs Committee, “I would like to yield my time to my son to explain this further,” to which Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, responded, “I think that would be appropriate.”

It’s a nonbinding memorial to Congress demanding that the EPA be removed from Shoshone County, along with its Superfund designation, within five years. He said the EPA’s proposed multiyear cleanup plan “would have a devastating effect upon our mining industry.”

James McMillan said human health concerns in the Bunker Hill cleanup already have been addressed. “Now they say that their focus is fish and wildlife,” he told the committee. “They keep changing the focus. … We need to tell them that this needs to stop.”

The committee voted unanimously to introduce the bill, clearing the way for a hearing.

Afterward, McMillan, 29, said he first started working on the resolution as a proposal to his local Republican Central Committee, where he’s a youth committeeman and also a precinct committeeman. “I’ve been kind of working it through the Republican Party,” he said.

His mother, asked why she didn’t pitch the measure herself, said, “Because he was the one that wrote it, so he has a better understanding of it at this point in time. It just happened to work out that I got in this year, so I could introduce it.”

AARP: Not progress

Here’s what the Idaho AARP thinks of the new “narrow” conscience law amendment bill, HB 187: “We don’t view this as progress,” said David Irwin, Idaho AARP spokesman. “It still allows all health care professionals in Idaho to have a conscience objection to somebody’s living will or advanced directive, and those are legal documents. … We think it can be clearer, and we think it can be done better.”

Under Idaho’s Natural Death Act, people can file legal living wills or advanced care directives to specify which “artificial life-sustaining procedures” should be used, or not used, when they’re dying. The state’s conscience law, passed last year, lets any health care provider refuse to provide any end-of-life treatment that violates the provider’s conscience.

Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, a co-sponsor of HB 187 and the lead sponsor of the conscience law last year, said, “The physician ought to have some say in what the treatment is and whether it’s appropriate. … He swears an oath that he’s going to keep people alive.” Winder said, “There’s kind of a balancing act going on here. We think it’s important not only at the beginning of life, but at the end of life, that medical providers be able to exercise their conscience.”

He said he’s been through difficult situations with family members about ending artificial life supports. Asked what a family should do if a doctor opposes the patient’s and family’s wishes on that question, Winder said, “Get a different doctor.”

The same House committee that introduced HB 187 voted 13-6 last week against introducing legislation from Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, to amend the conscience law to remove references to end-of-life care and treatment; the law deals mainly with abortion and emergency contraception.

School bus ads

The state’s largest school district wants to sell advertising on school buses to help fund its schools. That’s the push behind SB 1111, which now is headed for debate in the full Senate.

The Meridian School District has 280 buses that travel 3 million miles a year, according to district spokesman Eric Exline; he estimated the district could bring in $1.5 million a year in gross sales, for a net of $400,000. Exline said at least six states now allow school bus advertising, and several other states are considering it.

SB 1111 would still require school buses to look like school buses, Exline said. It would require the state Board of Education to set rules to make sure the ads are appropriate.

Staff writer Betsy Z. Russell can be reached at or (208) 336-2854.

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