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Richard Larsen: Economic Benefits of Right-to-Work

March 26th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

This week Wisconsin became the 25th state in the union to pass and sign into law so-called “right to work” legislation. Despite the pejorative light oftentimes associated with right to Work (RTW) laws, in reality all they do is proscribe the requirement that a worker join or pay dues to a union as a qualification for employment.

Unions often view laws removing compulsory union membership for work in the private sector as “anti-union,” while advocates of right to work laws maintain it’s a matter of personal liberty and economic freedom. They argue that workers in given trades or industries should have the option to choose whether to join a union or not. Arguably, if a union is doing a good job representing the interests of its members, it should not be threatened by the freedom to choose, as the benefits of union membership would be self-evident.

Even some union leadership supports such a sentiment. Gary Casteel, the Southern region director for the United Auto Workers, explains, “This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.”

One cannot be a student of history without recognizing the tremendous contributions unions made to the emergence of the middle class in early to mid 20th century America. They significantly improved working conditions, workweek hours, and compensation levels.

In today’s highly competitive economy, their focus seems to have changed, as they seem to be primarily political entities today, with compulsory union dues used mostly for amassing power in the political arena, and spent on candidates and causes that some members may object to. Even Bob Chanin, former top lawyer for the National Education Association, admitted that in his farewell speech a few years ago. “It’s not about the kids…it’s about power,” he said.

According to Department of Labor statistics, only about 7% of America’s private sector workforce is unionized. In post World War II era, it was nearly 40%. The trend is reversed for public employees, where 60 years ago the unionized segment of the public employees workforce was less than 10%, while it currently is nearly 37%. Logic leads one to surmise that maybe all those “evil corporations” have gotten it right, and are providing pay and benefits at a level that employees are satisfied with. While the same logic might lead us to believe that, following those trends, it is “evil government” that is taking advantage of employees and must be represented by collective bargaining.

Average wages do tend to be slightly lower in right to work states, as reported by The Wall Street Journal last year. But the differences may be attributable to other factors. As the Journal explained, “Many economists say when differences in cost of living are taken into account, wages are roughly the same—or even higher—in right-to-work states.” When looking at a map of non-right to work states, geographical and cost of living factors seem to affirm that distinction.

Last year the National Institute for Labor Relations released a detailed study of right to work vs. non-right to work states. The research was based upon data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Census Bureau, United States Patent and Research Office and Bureau of Economic Analysis. Five economic factors were analyzed in right to work and non-right to work states in the Midwest, with the following statistical conclusions:

Job growth is twice as strong in RTW states. The percentage growth of non-farm private sector jobs (1995-2005)?in right to work states was 12.9%?while non-right to work states came in at 6.0%.

Perhaps surprising to some, poverty is actually higher in non-right to work states. Average poverty rate, adjusted for cost of living was 8.5% in RTW states, and 10.1% in non-right to work states. This may likewise have more to do with geography and cost of living factors, however.

New company and new product growth is significantly greater in RTW states. During that same period, annual percentage growth in patents granted was 33% in RTW states, and only 11% in non-right to work states.

Income growth rates are higher in RTW states as well. The percentage growth in real personal income was 26.0%?in RTW states, while non-right to work states grew at 19.0%.

Even health insurance coverage in RTW states fared better. Note that this data was gathered before implementation of Obamacare. The percentage growth in number of people covered by employment based private health insurance was 8.5% for RTW states, and 0.7%?for non-right to work states.

Consequently, based on National Institute for Labor Relations research, right to work states create more private sector jobs, enjoy lower poverty rates, experience more technology development, realize more personal income growth, and increase the number of people covered by employment-based private health insurance. Clearly when looking at the big picture, the economy of a state is more likely to be more robust when the workforce has the freedom to choose.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Pocatello Issues, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 23

March 26th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I had a chance this last weekend to do a little plowing at the ranch. I couldn’t help but think of a fellow I met years ago that had given up farming in order to get a job in town. I asked him why he did that and he said, “I got tired of going around in circles and getting nowhere.” I’ve never felt that way about farming and in fact I was glad to be able to spend some time on the tractor, getting a little therapy as it were.

The two biggest unresolved issues for this session are education and transportation. While visiting with the Speaker late last week, he assured me that things have progressed to the point that an agreement may soon be reached for education but there is still a wide gap on how to best find new money for transportation. No matter where the Transportation Committee looks, it involves higher gas taxes, higher registration fees, and a minor shift to the general fund. All of these issues seem to have some support but not enough yet to find its way into law.

In State Affairs I presented a Gaming Commission bill for introduction which is now known as House Bill 279. If we have learned anything from this racing bill it has been that there is a definite need for better regulation. It would do away with the Lottery Commission and the Racing Commission and puts in place a regulatory framework that would oversee all gaming in Idaho including Tribal Gaming. Later on in the week we had a hearing on the proposal but the State Affairs Committee decided to not forward the bill for any further discussion. As with most things around this place we had several who testified on both sides. For the most part the horse racing community was very much in favor of the bill and representatives of lottery interests and the tribes were not in favor. The bill was held in committee. The bill to repeal historical racing was voted out of committee and sent to the floor of the House.

I keep thinking that the controversial stuff is going to go away but we still have a couple of issues that we will be deciding in the coming week. There never seems to be a dull moment in the State Affairs Committee. I was visiting with a couple of members of the committee and they told me that it is usual for this committee to be involved with one or two controversial items during the session, but this year has been much different. It seems like we’ve had one or two of those difficult issues each week.

On the lighter side, a resolution was passed by the Senate and sent to the House declaring the week of September 28 through November 4, 2015 to be recognized throughout the state as National Diaper Need Awareness Week. (I am not making this up, and you can read the Senate Concurrent Resolution number 110 online). Let your imagination wander about the puns that were flying around on this one. The members of the State Affairs Committee decided that if there was time to talk about diapers on the House floor, there was time to talk about the state salamander. House Bill 1 was sent to the House floor with a do pass recommendation. The young lady who has been bringing this to the legislature for the past several years was surprised and ecstatic. So at least we made someone’s day. It doesn’t happen often.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 16

March 16th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

A few weeks ago I was asked by a lobbyist when I would be scheduling a hearing on a particular bill. Kidding him a little I replied that I was looking at February 30th. He began to quiz me on why I had chosen that date. Another legislative advisor standing nearby began to laugh and then we had a good laugh together. We sometimes tend to take ourselves too seriously.

I was listening to some commentators on public TV and their lamenting that this has been a ‘do little” session. If that were true, some I know would say that’s a good thing. Also if it were true, it surely hasn’t seemed like we have been doing nothing. I imagine that comment comes because some of the larger things are still not resolved, namely education and transportation. Teacher career ladder legislation went down in flames in the Education Committee to the delight of teachers but not so much happiness for administrators. Work has begun on a different approach which might fare better.

As for transportation, three more ideas were introduced that don’t get to the level the governor wants or wouldn’t fill the gap that is said to exist. All of a sudden the effects of GARVEE bonds are settling in leaving us short on maintenance dollars.

All too often we encounter legislation that is aimed at fixing disputes between opposing groups. One of those issues that passed the House last week was the naturopath bill. Rather than fixing much it looks like it might cause more problems. If you read it carefully and if the Governor were to not appoint a board for the larger group of naturopaths, they would not be able to be licensed. The Attorney General sees some problems in the way the bill would operate. Because of the potential conflicts, I voted against the bill, but it now resides in the Senate.

We are in the middle of three other groups, the Racing Commission, the simulcasters and the Tribes. The historical racing repealer was heard in committee for a total of eight hours on two separate days. One comment from a conservative think tank that provoked some discussion was that this piece of legislation did not belong in the legislature because the result would be made by politics rather than sound principles of free enterprise. Maybe that’s fair but there is not a political safe haven on this one. A vote in favor of the bill makes it look like you favor one group over another , and a vote against it makes it look like you fully support gambling in Idaho. Being caught in the middle isn’t comfortable.

Looking toward an adjournment date, given the issues we have yet to resolve, looks like at least a week beyond the target date of March 27th. The test for an adjournment date in days gone by was that when the ground dried out enough for crops to be planted we’d head out of town. It isn’t that way so much these days. There is still serious business to do and in our part of the world, March seems too early to plant. Most of us are more concerned about water. With little or no snow pack, it’s going to take a lot of timely rain to make up the difference.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Common Core’s Fundamental Problems

March 15th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Common Core State Standards for education were advanced as a holistic reform intended to raise academic performance based on standardized achievement results. When reading the standards themselves, and the stated objectives, it’s inconceivable that anyone would take exception to them. Indeed, the education reform language sounds as idealistic and pertinent as any could. They were superbly crafted. Regrettably, in application, much is lost in translation, and Common Core is quickly becoming a significant detriment to our public educational system.

Achieve Inc. (a Bill Gates-funded educational consulting firm) created the standards, for the National Governor’s Association (NGA). And in 2010 when they were rolled out, adoption of the standards by the respective states was tied to the Race To the Top grants, funded by the massive Stimulus package of 2009. The granting of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers augmented inducement for states adopting the standards. The irony of the latter is that we’ve learned over the past ten years of NCLB that accountability and subsequent punishment of districts, schools, and teachers does not substantively improve the quality of education. Yet it’s a significant characteristic of CC.

Achieve, Inc. called upon 135 academicians and assessment experts, most with ties to testing companies, to draft CC. The standards had, prior to their rollout, never been fully implemented or tested in actual schools. This represented a sharp break from educational reform traditions of basing reforms on empirical data and calculable results. Very few of the 135-member team were either classroom teachers or current administrators. The other most conspicuous absence from the development team was parents. After the standards were drafted, K-12 educators were reportedly brought in to “tweak and endorse the standards” to “lend legitimacy to the results, according to the editors of RethinkingSchools.org.

By contrast, when I served on the Excellence In Public Education Commission for Idaho in the 80s, almost all of the commission members were educators, administrators, and/or parents. All of the major stakeholders in public education were represented. Such stakeholder involvement was conspicuously, and suspiciously, absent when CC was drawn up.

Perhaps none have explained the problems with CC as eloquently and precisely as Carol Burris from New York. In 2010 she was named the New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association, and in 2013 she was named the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has identified five key reasons CC is disastrous for education. She was extremely supportive of the objectives of CC, yet after thoroughly examining the program, realized the damage it would do to education. The following are some of her findings:

“Despite the claims of supporters, the standards are not built on sound research. They have never been field-tested nor proven to raise student achievement. The truth of the matter is research shows the rigor of state standards is not related to student achievement. In addition, a study of the state standards most like the Common Core by the Brookings Institution concluded that it is likely that the Common Core will have minimal effect on student learning. There is no research that supports the untested standards and practices of the Common Core.

common-core-math-problem“The Common Core standards contradict what we know about the way young children learn. Louisa Moats, one of the few early childhood experts on the team that wrote the early literacy standards, is now an outspoken critic. Why? Because the K to 3 Common Core standards disregard decades of research on early reading development. Shortly after the standards were published, 500 early-childhood experts — pediatricians, researchers and psychologists — found the early-childhood Common Core standards to be so developmentally inappropriate that they called for their suspension in grades K to 3.

“The Common Core standards for English Language Arts promote the use of questionable strategies and over-emphasize informational text. One of New Jersey’s leading literacy experts is Russ Walsh of Rider University. Walsh, as well as other literacy experts, has become uncomfortable with the beliefs that guide the Common Core ELA standards, specifically that background knowledge does not matter for reading, “close reading” should dominate literacy instruction, and that students should be reading only grade-level texts. There is also worry that informational texts are crowding out literature in English Language Arts classes.
images“The Common Core tests are unreasonably difficult and will result in unfair consequences for students. Even as New Jersey begins the PARCC exams, some states have begun giving their own Common Core tests. New York’s students have taken Common Core tests twice. Proficiency rates dramatically dropped to the low 30s, with minimal improvement in year two. Results have been especially devastating for special-education students, English language learners, and students of color and poverty — with proficiency rates in single digits for students with disabilities who are poor.

“Low test scores have consequences for kids. Students are put into remedial classes. Test scores are used to decide who gets into gifted programs and into competitive schools. In a pro-Common Core report titled “Opportunity by Design,” The Carnegie Corporation estimated that due to the Common Core, the national six-year dropout rate will double from 15 percent to 30 percent, and the four-year graduation rate will drop from 75 percent to 53 percent.

“New York students took the Common Core algebra test, which is a graduation requirement, last June. Only 22 percent met the Common Core score that is being phased in as the new passing standard for graduation. Are these fair and reasonable standards? I think not.”

This kind of top-down regulation of education is entirely the opposite of what is needed in education, and none can offer a better assessment of what works and what doesn’t than those with “boots on the ground;” the teachers, with parental input. The establishment of standards by bureaucrats and corporate sponsors, as CC was devised, is the wrong approach entirely.

Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) Local Leadership in Education Act, Senate Bill 144, needs to be passed. This Act will “prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or making financial support conditional upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards, or curriculum, or on the administration of assessments or tests, and for other purposes.”

All efforts to roll back and rescind CC are advisable at this juncture, at the state and local level, as well. This is not a partisan issue. Something as crucial as our children’s education transcends politics, and bears substantive implications for the future of America, as a nation and as a people.

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

David Ripley: Planned Parenthood Appeals to Iowa Supreme Court

March 15th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Iowa Supreme Court held a hearing yesterday on objections by Planned Parenthood to a ruling last year by the Iowa Board of Medicine that outlawed its new system of “remote control” abortions.

During the hearing, Planned Parenthood revealed that it had used its “web-cam” method to destroy the lives of over 7,000 babies in Iowa since 2008. For almost all of that period, the organization publicly denied that it was delivering abortion drugs without an in-person examination by a qualified physician.

Planned Parenthood claims that their experimental procedure is “safe” – yet the Board of Medicine determined otherwise, finding that the nation’s largest abortion provider violated community standards of care.

Planned Parenthood has already lost its appeal of the Board of Medicine rules in an Iowa district court.

A former manager of a Planned Parenthood clinic using the remote control protocol has announced publicly that employees who actually see the women considering abortion hold no medical degree(s) and undergo about two days of training on an ultrasound machine.

It is truly astounding how little regard Planned Parenthood has for the women and girls who come to them for help in sorting out difficult situations.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 9

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Saturday night I made the mistake of changing only a few of the clocks in the house for the time change. When we woke up Sunday morning the conversation went something like this: Linda: What time is it? Tom: Ten to five. Linda: Is that real time? Tom: Well, I set this clock to daylight savings time. Linda: Did you move the clock forward or back? Tom: I moved it the correct way, I’m sure. Linda: What time is it then? Tom: Ten minutes to five. Linda: But is that real time? Tom: I give up.

This last week was the week to dread things. My mother-in-law would have said that we had enough dread. The issue that desperately needed attention was the “permitless conceal carry” bill. I did the novel thing of reading the bill. In addition to a misplaced modifier, the language actually would have required someone who desired to conceal carry without a permit, to comply with all of the requirements to get a permit (I am not making that up). Even though the sponsors tried to argue the point, I am sure that is not what they intended at all. Other portions of the bill left our reciprocity with other states in question, which was also not intended. Others around here have been working hard on this issue and we may soon see new legislation coming forward.

Historical racing is another of those things we have been dreading. If other members of State Affairs have had the kinds of discussions I have had on this bill, they have been busy. I had one lobbyist suggest that there needs to be a broader discussion of the future of gaming in Idaho, and that a gaming commission would be the pathway forward. I asked him if he saw wide open gaming in Idaho’s future. There was no real response. The horsemen are telling us that live horse racing will be destroyed if the repeal passes, and the Tribes are telling us that the machines the horsemen are using for historical racing are not legal. It looks like we are caught in the middle of another issue. House State Affairs will begin the hearing for this one on Wednesday.

Another item that has received some attention is a new Naturopath licensing bill that does something I have not previously seen. The bill would create a second naturopath board but would allow both groups to use the same titles with a slightly different scope of practice. Two different boards for the same profession is not what we see anywhere else. This has been a ten year process that has not been resolved, and this doesn’t seem like the right approach either.

Budgets are beginning to trickle into the full House with many more to come. There is still no consensus on what will be coming forward in the way of increases for highway funding. So far everyone is thinking that the other guys should pay, but there are way too many “other guys.” Ideas are bouncing around in a very creative way. The latest is to inflict a little pain on every conceivable source. It kind of reminds me of the idea that if you hit your thumb on your right hand with a hammer after you hit the left one, it won’t hurt so badly. But hurt it will.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Climate Change Objective is Economic, not Environmental

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

The primary objective behind environmental activism related to anthropogenic global warming (AGW), aka “climate change,” is apparently not climatological, but is rather economic. The revelation came not from “global-warming deniers,” but from the United Nation’s own Christiana Figueres, who serves as the Executive Secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At a press conference in Brussels earlier this month, the UN climate chief delineated the objectives of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations. She revealed, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

She continued, “That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 – you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.”

Capitalism has been the primary economic model of the west since the industrial revolution.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion, based on her stated objective, is the eradication of capitalism and free market economics, to be replaced with a model based on monetary redistribution. This we know by the redistribution calculations being developed by the UN’s IPCC for developed nations to pay “reparations” and “carbon offsets” to poorer countries based on carbon dioxide emissions.

While Figueres may have unintentionally disclosed the primary objective of the AGW alarmist movement within the UN, others are much less veiled. Naomi Klein, a self-defined “feminist-socialist,” environmental activist and author of the book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” is explicit in her denunciation of capitalism as the source of global warming. Her interview this week with Germany’s Der Spiegel underscored her denunciation of capitalism as the source of all evil in the world, including global warming. “The economic system that we have created has also created global warming. We can’t change the physical reality, so we must change the political reality.” Such a conclusion is easy to accept if the AGW alarmist premise is embraced blindly, sans scientific validation.

Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, explicitly affirmed the economic objective. He said a few years ago, “Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection…One must say clearly that we redistribute the world’s wealth by climate policy…The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”

A leftist global think-tank alluded to this a few years ago. The Club of Rome proclaimed, “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”

One of the luxuries of basing a movement’s argument on quasi-science, including heavily doctored reports and “data,” is that bogeymen can be made of almost anything. And in the case of the AGW alarmists, it’s man, and capitalism. Once mankind is identified as the culprit behind climatic changes, his every activity can be justifiably regulated, controlled, and taxed. And once taxed, an omnipotent government that idyllically “cares” for the collective can redistribute it. And as Figueres and Klein evidence, it can provide the irrational justification for changing the global economic system.

Coups, revolutions, and violent upheavals have worked only marginally to eradicate capitalism and replace it with socialistic economic models, all of which have failed, or are in the process of doing so. It would appear that the entrenched prevalent ideology of the UN has found a new way to fundamentally transform the world with the visage of Marx.

Considering the ultimate goal of the UN’s climate panels is to eradicate capitalism, it’s refreshing when a scientist who shares their ideology questions the quasi-scientific premises upon which the plan is based. Fritz Vaherenholt is a socialist, and the founder of Germany’s environmental movement. He was a reviewer of the IPCC reports, and while initially was supportive of them, found a host of scientific errors that proved to him the conclusions were defined before the scientific method was even attempted.

Vaherenholt’s recent book, “The Cold Sun: Why the Climate Disaster Won’t Happen, charges the UN’s IPCC with “gross incompetence and dishonesty… especially regarding fear-mongering exaggeration of human CO2 emission influences.” He expressed how stunned he was by the large number of scientific and computer-modeling errors he was finding in IPCC reports. He voiced his disapprobation in an interview with the German news publication Bild, “… IPCC decision-makers are fighting tooth and nail against accepting the roles of the oceans, sun, and soot. Accordingly, IPCC models are completely out of whack. The facts and data need to be discussed sensibly and scientifically, without first deciding on the results.

But that’s precisely what has happened. The ideological plenipotentiaries in the UN, intent on implementing Marxist ideology, started with an objective, identified a human activity they could foment fear over, draw in like-minded “scientists” as apologists to “validate” their predetermined “consensus,” and fundamentally transform the global economy as an end result. It’s a brilliant strategy that has superbly garnered the support of virtually every left-leaning organization, media outlet, journalist, and academic across the country.

But the key to it all was reclassifying the atmospheric gas that facilitates photosynthesis and makes the world lush and green, and the gas emitted by mammals when we exhale, as a pollutant and a causal force in destroying the world. That’s a simple premise to accept when so much of the populace is either too acquiescent, uninformed, or ideologically aligned with the intended goal, to view it objectively.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Idaho House Approve Bill to Protect Women

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Idaho House voted 55-14 to approve HB 154, legislation we brought forward with Right to Life to ban “tele-med” abortions in Idaho. The legislation also includes several specific safety measures regarding the dispensation of RU-486.

Chemical abortions have become an increasing problem for Idaho, with about 40% of Idaho babies now being destroyed with deadly drugs which deprive the baby of food, water and oxygen in the early stages of a pregnancy. And those numbers are expected to climb as Planned Parenthood continues to seek ways to expand the envelope of its operations, operating well beyond the scope of FDA regulations governing the use of RU-486.

Planned Parenthood operatives across the nation are engaged in a highly sophisticated campaign to not only “normalize” RU-486 by calling it “medication” – but to expand its use. They see it as a cheap way to expand access to abortion and are happy to cut as many corners as possible to achieve that goal.

Democrats on the House floor unanimously opposed the legislation, arguing that it had nothing to do with protecting a woman’s health.

They remain willfully incognizant of the dangers posed to women by the abuse of RU-486. In the name of a woman’s “right to choose”, they seem quite willing to look the other way as women and girls suffer emotional and physical damage.

Fortunately, Planned Parenthood is running into strong opposition from the mainstream medical community.

After conducting wide scale experiments on women and girls in Iowa, medical professionals asked the Iowa Board of Medicine to review Planned Parenthood’s “tele-med” abortion program in that state. In a highly unusual action, the Board voted 8-2 to ban the procedure outright in Iowa. Planned Parenthood is, of course, challenging that ruling in court.

18 states now prohibit the Planned Parenthood “remote control” abortion program, with Idaho on the way to becoming the next.

HB154 now heads to the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee for a hearing.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 2

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I was participating in a video conference and describing all of the issues that are before the House State Affairs Committee. Someone on the other end of the meeting said, “Wow! You get all the good stuff!” A member of State Affairs told me that it is certainly not a committee that gives you a chance to relax much. Relaxation is over-rated anyway.

There are some who want to come up with a consensus about increased funding for highways. Progress on that front is slow at best, with no clear-cut way forward. Everything that has been proposed so far has not gained much support. A new sales tax for roads bill is yet to be introduced, and may not come about at all. The main idea floating around is a one cent increase coupled with not taxing groceries coupled with eliminating the grocery tax credit coupled with a reduced income tax rate to a flat tax. That is even confusing to write about, let alone writing a bill that would cover all of those bases.

Another little non attention getter (except in local government circles) is a bill to take half of the new construction tax and give it to schools to pay off bonds and other limited uses. We are getting an earful on this one from the counties. What most people don’t know is that this is money that comes in after the levies are set and is over and above what is budgeted but can be spent without going through the normal budgeting process. It is still stuck in committee.

We are still struggling with the procurement rules of the Department of Administration. Like some other proposals I read here, I can’t seem to read them without wanting to change every sentence. When it comes to how the State asks for bids for contracts, awards them and renews or extends them, there is much room for improvement. We are told that The Department of Education, for example has about fifteen hundred contracts in existence, about half of which are active. Seems like a lot in either case.

The bills now before the full House number in the mid thirties and I sense that there are a few of those that will be taking some longer than average debates. There are still no budget bills among them, but that will change soon. As for State Affairs, we still have some interesting stuff ahead. A year without a liquor bill or two would not be normal and on that score it will be a normal year. Still to be heard is the historical racing bill and of course a little thing dubbed Constitutional Carry. And don’t leave out doing away with Daylight Savings Time from being looked at, again. I’ve been trying all weekend to get in touch with a legislator buddy in Utah to see where they are on that issue. In any event brace yourself for the change next week. It’s not one of my favorite things, or anything close to it.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: “No Scandal” Obama Administration

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

David Axelrod, former top advisor to President Obama, made a revelatory comment on his book tour this week. In an appearance at the University of Chicago, touting his political autobiography, Axelrod said, “I’m proud of the fact that basically you’ve had an administration that has been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal. I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration.”

Perhaps most surprising, Axelrod made the statement with a straight face. The only logical explanation for such a statement is that either he’s oblivious to what the administration has done over the past six years, or he’s completely detached from reality. At the very least, he clearly could have a promising future as an actor.

Equally alarming is the context within which Axelrod made the remark. He was responding to a question from an audience member on why Obama broke his promised ban on lobbyists in the White House. Axelrod replied that he didn’t “think that’s true.”

Lobbying scholar, Conor McGrath, has documented how inaccurate Axelrod’s perception is. In the latest issue of the Journal of Public Affairs, McGrath said, “President Obama’s public rhetoric on contact with lobbyists does not always accord with his private actions.” You’ll recall that on his first day in office Obama ostentatiously signed an Executive Order banning former lobbyists from working in his administration. That makes it even more difficult to disavow the reality that they hired 119 former lobbyists, including 60 in senior administration posts, according to McGrath.

Since Mr. Axelrod seems to be oblivious to the administration’s failure in regard to hiring lobbyists, he’s certainly left the door open to erroneous perceptions with regard to administration scandals, as well. So let’s take a look at some of the scandals that have not taken place over the past six years, per the former adviser.

Things like the IRS being used as a political enforcement arm of the administration in targeting opposition groups and taxpayers. And how about the three-fer of refusing to provide adequate protection of our ambassador to Libya, blaming his murder on a video that no one in Libya had seen before then, and then covering up everything from the State Department to the Pentagon and the White House to prevent the truth from being revealed.

Clearly Axelrod doesn’t think Obamacare’s a scandal, but there are a great number of Americans who believe differently. What else can it be called when a president promises our health insurance would drop by $2,400 and we could all keep the policies that we like, but then prices rise by an average of 78% in four years, and tens of millions of Americans lost that insurance they were promised they could keep? In a normal person’s lexicon, that would be considered scandalous, especially since it was all obviously based on a lie.

And let’s not forget Axelrod’s “non-scandal” of dozens of our veterans losing their lives, and tens of thousands of them being deprived requisite healthcare because of internal politics within the Veteran’s Administration. When policies lead to one unnecessary and innocent death, isn’t that scandalous? So why is it not when it leads to over 40 deaths?

In banana republics, politicians giving money to their political cronies, and vice versa, is considered graft and corruption. This administration has proven one of two things: either the U.S. is now a banana republic, or such graft and corruption is now acceptable in the most powerful republic in the world. How else can we classify the billions of “stimulus” dollars that went to administration friends at Solyndra, NextEra, Ener1, Solar Trust, and dozens of other well-connected companies, which all subsequently went bankrupt?

Typically, when a government illegally (according to its own laws) operates a gun-running operation, putting guns purposefully into the hands of drug cartels and their goons, leading to the deaths of government law enforcement agents, it would be considered a scandal. Perhaps Mr. Axelrod just thinks that the DOJ’s “Fast and Furious” operation was just business as usual.

We could go on and on, including the EPA’s collusion with the green lobby, the 25 documented unconstitutional actions of the administration after taking an oath to uphold it, the massive debt and deficit spending that threatens our economic stability, and the Bowe Bergdahl fiasco of trading five of the most hardened jihadists for an army deserter. And then, in the case of the latter, having the temerity to claim the “Taliban is an armed insurgency; ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”

I’m sure that a major component to Axelrod’s ignorance of administration scandals is the fact that the mainstream media has virtually ignored all of them. To a media that has ignored the myriad of administration scandals, failures, lies, and incompetency, if they don’t report them, the scandals apparently never occurred. Kind of like the old philosophical question of a tree falling in a forest; if there’s no one to hear it, does it make any noise? To the media, if they don’t report it, it didn’t happen, and the administration affirms the nonevent.

Then again, perhaps it’s just a characteristic of sycophancy. If Axelrod denies the scandals occurred, they didn’t. For perception rarely approximates reality in a sycophant’s mind. Such detachment from reality may be laudable in Hollywood, but certainly not in the top echelons of government.

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