Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Veteran Recognition Act in Idaho, as it should be all over our nation. Vets know what vets need, allow them do it:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Getting the School Security and Safety bill printed today as well, good to get some of these efforts moving:

Took the snow plow off the mini-truck yesterday... that's why it's snowing today, sorry... my bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A great lady, and leader, I worked for taught me a lesson once; When all you are left with is lemons, you make lemonade! Here is my debate on the Senate floor on our Healthcare Exchange choices:

As expected, it's been a pleasure working with my long-time friend, Representative Judy Boyle on our 2nd Amendment issues this session. We've tried to herd all the ideas for protecting our rights, as well as our citizens, and have come together with many very good bills. Here is a summary of what you should see happening this next week in both the House and Senate on 2nd Amendment issues:

Monday will be public hearings in House State Affairs for two of the bills and print hearings for two more. Legislation is called an RS (Routing Slip) before becoming an official bill. An RS is the confidential personal property of the sponsor and is not seen until it receives a print hearing. If a committee agrees to print the RS, it is then given a number and placed on the legislative website for the public to review prior to a public hearing. Once/if these 2 RS's are printed we will be able to discuss their intent and impact

One bill, now printed is H192, up for a full hearing Monday, is a new enanced carry conceal permit which should allow Idahoans to carry in at least 39 states. This permit will require 8 hours of intense face to face training with 98 rounds of live fire, information on legal aspects, how to handle an active shooter situation, and more. Rep Joe Palmer (R-Meridian) is the sponsor.

Another bill, H183, is also scheduled for a full hearing Monday and is sponsored by Rep Terry Gestrin (R-Donnelly). This is cleans up old language that was missed in our 2008 Senate bill S1441 which declared the legilature would be the sole authority to regulate concealed firearms with a few exceptions. The old language of still on the books that was found by a citizen in Dist 20 is now conflicting with the new language and says that cities have the authority to regulate, prohibit, or punish the use of concealed weapons. H183 would remove that ability and make clear only the legislature regulates concealed firearms as defined in our Constitution and Idaho statute.

In the Senate, we have S1099 which de-regulates the requirement for the tax stamp required when purchasing a suppressor or transferring a suppressor between Idaho citizens within Idaho boarders. The importance of this is based on hearing loss and costs now being incurred by Idahoans through the noise pollution of shooting sports while not wearing proper hearing protection. Hearing loss to all Idahoans is now in the 6% range directly caused by shooting sports. Health and Welfare, in 2012, spent over $330k in hearing mitigation for Idaho's poor directly related to shooting sports. The rest of Idahoans each spend well over $4k in repairing damaged hearing. Most of this happens in hunting situations where wearing hearing protection is counter productive to the sport. Suppressors are now legal for anyone to own (they are not a firearm, more like a car muffler) and hunt with in Idaho, the $200 tax stamp is another price barrier keeping many from buying one to shoot with to protect their hearing and the hearing of those around them.

A final RS in the Senate should be heard this week that has to do with K-12 security ensuring that we have proper plans in place needed to protect our citizens attending, teaching and working in our schools. Ensuring that measures taken are left up to local managers to control based on available resources... more once this is printed.

Once all of these RS's are printed, I will provide the links to you all here for review so you can provide your input to your legislators.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Week 7 Legislative Update:
The Senate Resources and Environment Committee voted on Monday to give the state final say on whether an endangered species or plant is reintroduced into the state. This vote ensures Idaho is exercising its state sovereignty under the 10th amendment and fighting for the rights of Idahoans. Later the Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted to send SB 1053 to the floor, this bill would stagger food stamp distribution over the first 10 days of each month instead of only at the first of each month. The move has the support of retailers and many anti-hunger activists. It was pulled back on Friday due to some changes on the Statement of Purpose fiscal impact section. Revisions were in a good direction (down for the cost to implement) but still needs to be vetted through the committee.
On Tuesday JFAC began its first day of setting state agency budgets. Among the budgets set on Tuesday were the Division of Building Safety, the State Lottery, and Idaho Endowment Fund Investment Board. The Senate also passed SB 1049 that would set up a new Governor-appointed oil and gas commission. This would help the state nurture the growing industry and protect the rights of property owners and taxpayers.
The Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday voted to approve SCR 112 and SJM 101. Senate Concurrent Resolution 112 would affirm the state’s position against marijuana use in any form and the Senate Joint Memorial would urge the Federal Government to enforce existing drug laws. The approval of both measures by State Affairs ensures the Senate will hear about protecting Idaho’s youth and that Idaho should urge the Federal Government to enforce its existing laws.
The Senate debated and passed the State Healthcare Exchange after six hours of debate. The final vote was 23-12 and because of the length of the debate no afternoon Committee meetings were held. The issue was to back a Federally run Exchange or a State run Exchange, few of us on the floor liked either choice, but we had to select the least worst option due to the federal law that remains constitutional after our challenge in the Supreme Court back in 2010. I am confident that my friends across the rotunda in the House will be able to make this bill better than what we sent them.
On Friday JFAC continued to set multiple, conservative agency budgets, ensuring that Idaho taxpayers money is spent wisely. We also debated more bills on the floor and sent many Senate bills to the House for their consideration.
This was a very long and arduous week. I've lost a lot of sleep over the decision on the Healthcare Exchange, doing a lot of study and thinking how best to defend our citizens and businesses from the overreach of the Federal government. As I said in debate, we have been on offense on this issue since 2010, but we didn't win all we needed in the courts... nor did we win the Executive branch or the Senate in DC that could have modified this law. It's now the beginning of the 3rd quarter of this healthcare exchange debacle and we are starting on defense. Leaving the field mid-game is not an option, you lose the chance to throw that "hail Mary" that could win you the game in the end. I will try to find a video of my debate for those who might not have been able to hang with us for all 6 hours...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Great job to the Ada County Lincoln Day celebration, Fred Barnes as guest speaker was a great choice to comment on situations we face today!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Walking out of the Capital last evening around 6, I met retired Sen. Alan Simpson (WY) and we had a chance to stop and chat. What a humble and gracious man! We compared notes about our Legislatures (he served 13 years in the WY Legislature before going to D.C.) and how you learn so much about life in general. It seemed he didn't want to leave, but keep chatting, but is handler (and friend of mine) had to get him to a venue he spoke at last night. So knowledgeable and down to earth, it's no wonder he was such a key individual back in his day... I hope we meet again someday, I enjoyed our short but genuine conversation!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Relaxing wknd, worked the "honey-do" list, topped with dinner and good friends. Ready for a week of Healthcare, Veteran and firearm bills!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Legislative Update Week 6:
Last week, both the Senate and House Health and Welfare Committees held a joint forum open to the public. Public testimony was provided on a range of issues of concern to the public. We heard very passionate concerns from both providers and their customers alike on health needs.

Monday the House and Senate Education Committees held a joint forum open to the public. Constituents, teachers, principals and superintendants were all able to explain to the lawmakers where they believe Idaho should go in regards to Education. On the same day the Senate Education Committee introduced 14 bills relating to education. The legislation had a wide range of sponsors from individual senators to the Idaho School Boards Association and Idaho Education Association. Tough discussions and debate regarding the confirmation of a Fish and Game Commissioner appointed by the Governor. In the end of some very informed debate on both sides of the confirmation, it went down on a 19-16 vote. We have a great working relationship with our Governor, sadly this hasn't happened since 1974, but that's what the process of checks and balances are in place for.

Tuesday we printed many bills in committee and have passed many bills on the Senate floor to pass over to the House for consideration.

On Wednesday the Senate celebrated a slightly delayed celebration of our nation’s 16th President’s birthday. The Senate’s outstanding outgoing pages sang and offered inspiring quotes to those in the chamber. Also, former long-time reporter Quane Keynon served in the place of Sen. Fred Martin.

On Thursday Committee chairs from the House and Senate reported to JFAC in preparation for the Committee’s budget-setting process. Senator Goedde, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, testified the Committee is focused on how best to increase efficiency, accountability and continue to invest in our future.

On Friday JFAC set their budget target for 2014 to be 3% over the current year’s appropriations. The move is in line with Governor Otter’s budget request. We are very concerned about spending more than the revenue we bring in and have deep concerns about the impact of funding decisions due to sequestration and budget cuts in D.C. About 1/2 of Idaho's budget is based on revenue coming back from the Federal government from our taxes and borrowing money. We were informed that if all stays on track in DC, we could be short another $100m from Transportation (about a 20% reduction of the current revenue). Our Idaho economic indicators are flat, but housing starts are up... some good signs, but you can't budget on being able to spend "signs"!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Listening to POTUS describe his vision while at the same time not submitting a budget to support it makes my head want to explode!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Some tough votes today in committee and on the floor, but did get my firearms suppressor bill printed :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Spent a great early Valentines weekend with my sweetie, Mom and Dad at Riggins this weekend. V-day will be Mom and Dad's 60th engagement anniversary!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Anyone who believes this President and Senate won't fund Obamacare has not paid attention of their behavior for the last 6 years. I've not seen a single program they have wished to implement go unfunded... with either our money, newly printed money or borrowed. This is a good read of why we must do what we must do in the Idaho Legislature:

End of Week Update for the Senate (Feb 8, 2013)

We just completed a very full week in the Senate, highlights are provided below... many other bills were printed that might be of more interest to you. I would suggest using the Bill Center webpage at to review what bills are are discussing. The list is updated daily.

Monday the Senate and House Education Committees announced they would be holding another joint forum open to the public on February 11, 4-6 pm in the Capitol Auditorium. This will be the second time the education committees have requested public input (in addition to their normal committee meetings). This move was made to make sure everyone has an opportunity for input on education reform before votes are cast.

Tuesday the Senate took steps to protect Idaho’s children when the Senate Education Committee voted to introduce a bill that would require school boards to deny enrollment to any convicted felon. The bill would have no impact on those with violent misdemeanors. The move shows that that the Senate takes the protection of Idaho’s children seriously, that bill will be further discussed in Committee and if passed out of Committee, debated on the floor.

Wednesday the Senate approved SCR-103 which approves stakeholders in Idaho to coordinate and send a proposal to the FAA to be selected as one of the six states with an unmanned aircraft system test site. If selected, Idaho would likely see an influx of money and new economic activity. We printed a follow on bill that clearly sets sideboards for public privacy for drone operation, that bill was printed in the Transportation Committee on Friday and will be scheduled for hearing (it was a minor re-write of S1051).

On Thursday the Senate passed SB 1027 which would expand the Opportunity Scholarship program and provide 3,000-4,000 students in college with a $2,000 per year scholarship. The program will make it easier for Idaho students to get a college education. S1042, the Governor’s health exchange bill, was passed out of the Commerce committee on an 8-1 vote and heads to the full Senate floor next week for debate.

Friday we had a pleasant surprise when Idaho Historical Society President Janet Gallimore unveiled a priceless piece of Idaho’s history; the original document where President Lincoln appointed William Wallace as Idaho’s first territorial Governor (you can see pictures of it in my previous posts). The House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees held a joint listening forum that was open to the public so that we could hear, first hand, of what is and isn't working in our H&W system. Meanwhile, on the 4th floor of the Capitol Rotunda we were able to meet and talk with people representing organizations that care for the disabled. Also the Senate State Affairs Committee (at the recommendation of the Associated Cities of Idaho) introduced a resolution recommending marijuana remain illegal, and encouraging the Federal Government to enforce existing substance abuse laws.

I was also pleased that the three bills I presented on the Senate floor on Friday all passed and have now been sent on to the House for consideration. These bills were S1010: streamlining our behavior health system for more efficiencies and focus on needs, S1043: Allowing the placement of a veteran designation on Idaho drivers licenses, and S1044: re-defining a motorcycle from only being up to a 3 wheel vehicle to also allow aftermarket outriggers kits (4 wheels).

Although it was a very busy week, we have much more heavy lifting to do. Debates on our Healthcare Exchange options (our choices are either a Federal one or a State one), Personal Property Tax repeal, School Security and protection of our 2nd Amendment rights are all upcoming (many more bills to be printed).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

School security isn't about guns, nor is personal security, we are missing a mindset. This is a great read!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

We are distilling and combining our firearm and school bills as much as possible, many to be printed soon.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

We have a higher vet unemployment rate, too high a suicide rate and too many homeless. Why tolerate that?

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Senate Week IV The Senate did several important things this week. First, the Senate unanimously confirmed Brandon Woolf to replace Donna Jones as State Controller. Woolf served as Jones’s Deputy and has a history of serving Idaho with distinction. On Tuesday the Commerce and Human Affairs Committee voted unanimously to approve printing of the Governor’s state Health Exchange Bill. This vote ensures that Idahoans have a chance to hear the proposal and reasoning for a State Exchange and testify before the Committee the Exchange. On Thursday JFAC made their first budgetary decisions of a year. These votes covered expenses related to deficiency warrants and supplemental appropriations, by far the largest of which was covering costs incurred during wildfire season of 2012. Paying bills one has accumulated is something our Federal Government could take lessons on. On Friday the House and Senate Education Committees held a joint public meeting Friday morning wanting to hear from their constituents and concerned citizens about the future of education. Among the issues discussed were school labor issues and increased funding for charter schools. This is just one of the latest steps the Legislature has taken to continue to be open to the public and improve transparency in government. It's been a long week, we've started on a good path for Idahoans to discuss many issues needing resolution. Thank you for letting me represent you in the greatest State in our nation!