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Guest Post: House Highlights 19 March 2007

March 20th, 2007 by Halli

By Tom Loertscher

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day you see a lot of the green around the capitol and this year was no exception. It brings out the most colorful of green ties and shirts and dresses that you can imagine. Some of the ties are what my five year old grandson would call “disgusting.” Lobbyists were saying all day that the longer a session goes the more weird the ties get.

Long committee meetings are still going on and you would think by now that the tough issues would be behind us. Among the heavy meetings of the week were elk farm regulation, upper limit payments for hospitals, English the official State language, GARVEE funding (borrow money for roads) and prohibition of State benefits for illegal aliens just to name a few.

Not to be outdone by the committees, a lot of the budget bills moved through the House, including the Health and Welfare budget. One item that was not well received was the appropriation for the Lottery. It seems that over the past couple of years the commission has been using kids to promote the lottery along the lines that you benefit children and schools when you play. It was debated at length and when the vote was taken the bill failed on a thirty four to thirty four tie. This was clearly a backlash vote, one to send a message. What happened next was unprecedented.

The bill was moved for reconsideration and that vote failed on a thirty four to thirty four tie as well. It caused no small stir and was dubbed by some as the shot heard ‘round the State. Even veterans in this process can’t remember a budget bill getting that kind of reception.

Governor Otter had a reception at his ranch in Eagle that evening and I asked one of his people if he thought the lottery commission had gotten the message. His response was that not only did they get the message they got it twice. The director has pulled all of the ads and materials mentioned. There will be a new bill drafted with some changes to the budget.

I stopped by the little cubby hole where the pages hang out the other day and cheerfully announced that they would soon be able to get back to school. There was an audible groan. I asked, “You mean you want to keep hanging around all these old fogies even longer?” They have been having way too good of a time and this is quite the bunch of kids. The majority are home schooled and they have been a delight. They are smart and creative and have worked very hard.

Lt. General Wright gave what I would call the presentation of the session before a joint House and Senate State Affairs Committee meeting. He grew up in Idaho and is the commander of all of our troops in Japan. He talked to us about the strategic importance of our presence in that part of the world having Russia, China and North Korea within a couple of hours flying time. As a percentage of GDP China is spending three times what we are on defense. His last slide was telling. It was a graph of entitlement versus defense spending. Entitlements are growing and defense is shrinking. Given the unrest in many areas of the world it is cause for concern.

As our thoughts turn to spring, the grass in Boise turns green, and an occasional lawn sprinkler is seen, the lobby corps keeps telling me it is time to leave for home. Seventy degree days will do that to you. I rode the elevator to the parking garage the other day with a State employee and he put the whole thing in perspective. “When the legislature adjourns, I’ll get my parking spot back.”

Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. david Says:

    Don’t under estimate the power of the cartoons used in the adds.It’s an attempt to make the lottery innocuous.

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