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Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: Raul Labrador seeks labor law amendments

BOISE – Sixteen- and 17-year-olds should be able to work in mechanized logging operations under parental supervision, 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador says.

He’s proposed legislation to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow that, saying, “While the agriculture industry enjoys regulatory exemptions that allow family members between the ages of 16 and 17 to work under their parents’ supervision, the logging industry doesn’t have that same right.”

As a result, Labrador said, “Young men and women in families who own and operate timber harvesting companies are denied the opportunity to work and learn the family trade until they reach adulthood.” He’s calling his bill the “Future Logging Careers Act.”

Labrador is up for re-election, and faces four little-known challengers in the May 20 primary, including Sean Blackwell of Rathdrum; on the Democratic side, longtime Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, faces Hayden resident Ryan Barone for the chance to challenge Labrador in November.

Why the delay?

Idaho Public Television political debates generally air live, but the upcoming governor’s debate Wednesday night will have a 30-second delay. The reason: One of the four candidates, Harley Brown, is prone to profanity, and has been using language at candidate appearances that could get the public TV station fined by the Federal Communications Commission, regardless of who makes the on-air comment.

Brown is a perennial candidate who claims that he runs for office because God has called him to be the president of the United States. He’s run for everything from city council to Congress. This year, he’s added a “warning” on his campaign website saying, “The content of this website and especially the content of the page titled ‘Harleyism’ may be construed by those of a gentle nature, a sensitive disposition or the young, to be offensive, shocking or even obscene.” He’s also posted a pledge saying he “Declares WAR on political correctness!”

Brown is one of four candidates on the GOP primary ballot, along with anti-abortion advocate Walter Bayes, incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, and Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian.

Wednesday’s “Idaho Debate” is the only one in which Otter has agreed to face Fulcher; Otter insisted that the other two candidates be invited as well.

Little backs McGrane

Lt. Gov. Brad Little has endorsed Phil McGrane in the four-way Republican primary contest for Idaho Secretary of State, saying he “rarely, if ever” endorses candidates in the primary, “But the circumstances of this election are different.”

In a statement, Little said: “In a crowded field for the office of Secretary of State and limited access to resources for all of them, voters may not have the opportunity to learn enough about these candidates, and so my colleagues and I are stepping forward with our shared opinion.  The office of Secretary of State is a critical one.  We all agree the Secretary of State must be someone who is fair, even-handed, strong of character, and who possesses the expertise necessary to serve in this office.  We believe the candidate best suited to this position is Phil McGrane.”

 McGrane faces former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, former Sen. Evan Frasure and former Sen. Mitch Toryanski in the GOP primary; the winner will face Democrat Holli Woodings in November. In addition to Little, McGrane announced endorsements last week from nine GOP lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Denney announced endorsements from 10 current North Idaho GOP lawmakers, led by Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, and six former ones. Vick said in a statement, “I support Lawerence because of his integrity and his extensive knowledge of natural resource issues. These qualities will serve him well in his responsibilities in overseeing our elections and his responsibilities on the Land Board.”

The endorsement announcements are just the latest in the race; among notable ones announced earlier: Current Secretary of State Ben Ysursa endorsed McGrane; 1st District Congressman Labrador endorsed Denney; Freda Cenarrusa, widow of former longtime Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, endorsed Toryanski; and Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis endorsed Frasure.

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