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House Highlights – February 13

February 13th, 2008 by Halli

House Highlights
By Tom Loertscher
What a ride this week was. On the national scene with reports
concerning politics, shootings, fires, tornadoes and winter weather, we
here in Idaho were not left out of the news cycle.

The beginning of the week brought news from North Idaho of the very
heavy snowfall and the problems they are having up there. The snow has
been so heavy in places that roofs have caved in and several members of
the House spent the entire weekend shoveling snow. Representative
Anderson from the Sandpoint area said that he could not tell where the
snow banks ended and the roof of his house started.

And if all that has not been enough, we had our own series of events in
the House. Representative Joan Wood of Rigby tripped over a fuel hose
while refueling her vehicle and took a tumble. She is wounded but ok.
Representative Bert Stevenson from Rupert slid down the ramp of the
parking facility and dislocated his shoulder. It is painful but somewhat
back to normal.

On Thursday while debating a bill on the House floor Representative
Dennis Lake from Blackfoot could not continue because he had what is
called a TIA, actually a series of small strokes. As you can well
imagine, that brought things to a halt as several engaged to get him
medical help. There are two physicians in the House who were invaluable
getting information to the paramedics before and after their arrival.

Dennis is doing well and should return with no complications. What is
most interesting was to see the way differences of opinion quickly
disappeared and the welfare of one of our colleagues became the focus of
our attention. One of my seatmates mentioned that things like this tend
to bring things into perspective.

Revenue projection news flew through the chambers at lightning speed.
Thirty six million dollars of a projected surplus disappeared in just
one month. I don’t know when I have seen so many long faces around
this place. What all of this means is that instead of having some one
time funds to do those nice little projects, we will be doing well just
to maintain this current year’s budget intact.

County elected officials came to town this week for their annual
legislative meetings. It was very unusual not to have them at the
Capitol. One of the highlights of their meeting this year was Speaker
Newt Gingrich spending a day with county officials. He spoke about
leadership that evening to an audience of state and county officials.
I’ve heard him speak on other occasions and find him to be very
interesting. As you circulate around a crowd like that one, you soon
find that people either love him or despise him, none are indifferent.

Last year I was able to get House Bill 290 introduced near the end of
the session to make all of the aquifer studies that are being
contemplated by the Department of Water Resources part of their regular
budget. It also repealed another law that was slated to assess fees for
these studies on water users large and small. It became House Bill 428
this year and passed the house without a single no vote. As with most
things timing is everything and even though the effort was not
successful last year, it provided the springboard for passage this

Speaker Gingrich in his talk quoted Albert Einstein: “Doing more of
what you are already doing and expecting a different result is a sign of
insanity.” I think you could apply that to a lot of things we do in
state government.

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