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Thursday, August 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Otter sends Trump appreciation letter for executive actions

President Donald Trump's executive orders have spawned more than 50 lawsuits in the past few weeks, but they earned a "hearty congratulations" from Idaho's chief executive, writes Bill Spence of the Lewiston Tribune. In a recent letter, which Gov. Butch Otter described to the Idaho Press Club on Tuesday, Otter offered the president his "hearty congratulations and sincere thanks for the executive actions you already have taken, as well as your developing legislative agenda, to fundamentally change the direction of our national government."

The letter was dated Jan. 30, a few days after Trump imposed a temporary ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, suspended refugee resettlements, ordered the construction of a wall along the Mexican border and threatened to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities, Spence reports. His full report is online here.

Otter previously applied for a position with the Trump administration, hoping to be nominated as secretary of the interior or agriculture. He may still be under consideration for an ambassadorship.

Otter's letter to Trump came after he attended a meeting in Washington, D.C., during inauguration week, where he and several other governors discussed Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, as well as state relations with the federal government, Spence reports.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity your administration offers for improving the federal government's relationship with the states," Otter wrote. "I'm optimistic your leadership and commitment to meaningful change will restore a reliance on the principles of federalism that have contributed so much to America's greatness."

Several state agencies submitted suggestions as well. The Idaho Office of Energy and Mineral Resources, for example, recommended that the Trump administration "work with Congress to simplify and expedite the federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes," as a way to improve the management of intermingled state and federal lands.

Department of Finance Director Gavin Gee said it's "imperative" that the Dodd-Frank financial regulations be modified so small community banks aren't subject to the same "crushing regulatory burden" applicable to multinational institutions.

Reining in federal regulatory overreach is "front and center in the minds of Idaho's leaders." Some of the issues states should be able to decide, Otter wrote, include drug testing for unemployment applicants and waiving prevailing wage requirements for Community Development Block Grant projects.

Overall, Spence reported, the governor said Idaho wants more collaboration, flexibility and consistency in its dealings with the federal government.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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