June 16, 2013 in Idaho

Pollsters find broad support for immigration bill

By The Spokesman-Review

BOISE – A new statewide poll shows Idaho voters strongly in support of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration bill now being debated in the U.S. Senate, with 67 percent saying they support the bill, 75 percent saying they back a path to citizenship that includes tough requirements and 89 percent saying the United States should fix its immigration system this year.

Both of Idaho’s senators have opposed the bill in the two procedural votes taken on it thus far. GOP Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo were among just 15 senators that opposed allowing debate to start on the bill. Now, the Senate is debating various possible amendments.

Crapo said in a tweet, “#Senate is officially on the #immigration bill. We need an open amendment process & significant changes before I can support the bill.”

Damond Watkins, Idaho Republican national committeeman, said, “The results of this statewide poll should be yet another indication to our elected officials in Washington that their constituents want, and are ready for, a real and lasting solution to mend our broken immigration system. Comprehensive immigration reform is one of the rare issues that is both good politics and good policy.”

The poll was conducted in 29 states; in Idaho, it had a sample size of 590, a margin of error of 4.03 percent, and was conducted by phone using interactive voice response June 2-3. Harper Polling, a GOP firm, and Public Policy Polling, a Democratic pollster, collaborated on the poll, which was commissioned by three groups: Alliance for Citizenship, Partnership for a new American Economy, and Republicans for Immigration Reform.

The pollsters said they found “overwhelming, bipartisan support for the bill” in all 29 states in which they conducted polling. “The bill that’s been constructed has broad support with every segment of the electorate in every part of the country,” they wrote.

Wrong target

Of all the targets for a burglary, a Nyssa, Ore., man picked one of the worst last weekend. He was in downtown Boise at Sixth and Main streets, ground zero for Boise’s downtown bar scene, at 2:15 a.m. – a busy time, just after the bars close – and police officers in marked cars were on the scene, responding to a report of a hit-and-run collision with a bicyclist, who turned out not to be badly hurt.

The officers were just feet away from their car, interviewing numerous witnesses, when Juan Jose Vasquez, 25, allegedly opened the front passenger door of the squad car, leaned in and started rummaging through the officers’ stuff.

The officers saw him, shouted at him and grabbed him, and he was holding a metal box containing paperwork and supplies for writing police reports that he’d picked up from the passenger seat.

Now Vasquez is in the Ada County Jail facing a felony burglary charge; he was appointed a public defender and has a preliminary hearing set for June 24. “Usually officers are not very far away from their vehicles,” said Boise police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower, making burglarizing an on-scene squad car “not a good idea.”

Spuds in WIC?

GOP Rep. Mike Simpson’s amendment to include fresh potatoes in the federal Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program has cleared a House committee.

“Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” the potato-state lawmaker said. “This amendment corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families.”

The amendment to the 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill was approved on a voice vote in the House Appropriations Committee, on which Simpson serves; it now moves to the full House for consideration.

Revenues holding

Idaho’s latest tax revenue figures, for the month of May, came in 2.4 percent below forecast, but that followed a big surplus in April, the state’s biggest month for tax revenue, bringing the state to 3.1 percent – $75.3 million – above forecast for the fiscal year to date. Idaho’s fiscal year ends June 30.

‘Tough luck, it’s mine’

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt had this to say, amid laughter, on the naming of the Idaho Transportation Department headquarters after him on Thursday: “This building is over 50 years old – doesn’t look it, it’s a grand building. They’ve been hunting for the oldest person to name it after. I’m 86, they found me. Of course I’m highly honored. There are many more deserving people than I. I have only one thing to say to them: Tough luck, it’s mine.”

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