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Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane won’t seek re-election

Betsy Russell. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Betsy Russell. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Idaho state Treasurer Ron Crane has announced that he won’t seek re-election in 2018 to a sixth term, and will retire instead.

“Twenty years is a long time and I’ve enjoyed it immensely but I believe it is time for someone else to put their fingerprints on the direction of this office,” Crane said in a news release. “I will be forever grateful to the citizens of Idaho for allowing me the opportunity to serve as state treasurer.”

Crane’s tenure has been marked by controversy, over everything from limousine use to multimillion-dollar investment losses, but he’s handily won re-election every four years. He has focused on building up the state’s credit rating, and also launched a popular college savings program and a free annual control-your-finances conference for women.

“I’ve had a good run,” Crane said. “We have been able to do some awesome things for the state of Idaho and I will look back at those accomplishments with fond admiration.”

Crane served 16 years in the Idaho House before being elected state treasurer, and chaired the House State Affairs Committee.He is the founder of Crane Alarm Service. His son, Brent Crane, is the current assistant majority leader in the House.

Crapo named Senate Banking Committee chair

Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo has been named chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, succeeding Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. He had been in line for the chairmanship of the panel by seniority. The committee’s full name is the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

Crapo will continue to serve on the Finance, Budget, and Indian Affairs committees, and as a chief deputy whip for Senate Republicans. Plus, he’s added an additional committee assignment: The Senate Judiciary Committee, a position that could help him shepherd through the nomination and confirmation of Idaho’s next federal district judge and push for Idaho to get a third federal judgeship.

“The Constitution is clear in the rights it grants to citizens and the powers it bestows upon government,” Crapo said in a statement. “As part of this influential committee, I will work to ensure that the role of government is properly restrained while protecting individual rights and the access to equal justice to which all Americans are entitled.”

He and fellow GOP Sen. Jim Risch persuaded the Judiciary Committee to unanimously approve the nomination of Idaho Judge David Nye for the state’s vacant federal judgeship in July, but the nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate. That leaves Idaho still down to just one active federal district judge, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, since longtime Judge Edward Lodge took senior status in July 2015.

Lindsay Nothern, Crapo’s spokesman, said, “We’re really going to work hard on Nye and work hard on the judges thing. That was a part of the move to the Judiciary Committee.” Nothern said Crapo is hoping to move Nye’s nomination through “sooner rather than later,” and said he’ll “absolutely” be in a better position to advocate for Idaho to get a third judgeship. “He might be writing the legislation to do it,” Nothern said.

Faith healing exemption to be discussed

Asked about faith healing and Idaho’s religious exemption from prosecution when children are denied medical care in favor of prayer, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, was noncommittal. “We put together that working group for the purposes of studying the issue more fully, seeing how other states are handling it,” he said at Friday’s AP Legislative Preview. “That working group did not come back with specific recommendations to the Legislature; that’s OK. But they will come back with information and a better understanding of the issue and so forth, and I think it will be a topic of discussion here. Where it will end up, I am like the governor, I can’t say where it will end up.”

He added, “Remember, folks, we’re not interested in putting parents in prison. We’re interested in protecting children. And I think that there are some things we need to discuss there. It’s a very emotional issue, it’s a very important issue, it’s a difficult issue to come up with just the right verbiage, just the right words in just the right statute to cover every situation. Because most of the people in this room believe that God can help heal, and we don’t want to step on those religious beliefs, but at the same time we want to protect children. I think it will be a topic of discussion.”

Idaho really is in Vogue

Vogue Magazine last week came out with an article on the “10 Hottest Travel Destinations of 2017,” and amid such exotic locales as Oman, Madagascar and Sri Lanka, there’s a single U.S. destination included: Idaho.

“Idaho is having a moment,” the magazine says. “The capital, Boise, may not have an Ace Hotel yet, but it’s quietly setting itself up to be one of America’s most desirable second-tier cities with hip lodging like the Modern Hotel + Bar, indie coffee shops, creative hubs, distilleries, and a serious craft beer scene. And then of course, there’s the incredible access to the outdoors, including more than 190 miles of trails to hike, run and bike in the Boise Foothills.”

The article goes on to sing the praises of Sun Valley, which it says is “often overlooked for glitzier mountain towns like Telluride, Park City and Jackson Hole,” and comments, “think Aspen in the ’60s.” And it notes the new heli-skiing operation in the Selkirk Mountains of North Idaho.

How did Idaho make this varied list of hot spots? Writes Vogue contributor Jen Murphy, “Last year, savvy travelers flocked to Rio for the Olympics; Cuba, because they could; and America’s national parks, to celebrate the 100th birthday of the natural wonders in their own backyards.” But in the coming year, the magazine predicts, “Travelers will venture off the beaten path, beyond each country’s tried-and-true holiday escapes.”

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