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House Highlights – 27 February

February 27th, 2008 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

A lot of the stuff we do in the legislature is not very earth shaking
but on Thursday morning it definitely was. I was in a conference call
with a couple of my colleagues talking over a speaker phone and I felt
the floor move. After finding out later about the quake in Wells, Nevada
and hearing that others had felt the movement, I decided that earth
shaking things do happen in this place.

One that seemed to shake things in another way was a marathon meeting
of the Health and Welfare Committee. The hearing on the Midwifery
licensing bill was on Wednesday and went on for about five hours. Even
after that amount of time had lapsed only about half of those desiring
to testify were able to do so.

It was an emotionally charged affair with both sides passionately
expressing their point of view. Whenever I get in a meeting like this I
am impressed with the manner in which Idahoans conduct themselves, with
conviction and civility. A chairman has a gavel for a reason however,
and on this occasion it was only necessary to use it once.

The other thing that always interests me is that at the outset of
discussions like these, members of the committee seem to come from a
particular direction. As this hearing wore on into the evening it became
apparent that members of the committee were shifting their positions
some. The hearing will be finished this coming week with more testimony
and a vote being taken. At this point I will be supporting amendments,
because there are some things that need fixing.

Outfitters and Guides came up with legislation this year to
dramatically increase fines and jail time for anyone who would take
others hunting or on river trips without a license. As if that were not
enough, anyone who used the services of someone who was not licensed
would be subject to fines and jail as well. I voted no, for several
reasons. It looked to me like the equivalent of swatting a mosquito with
a railroad tie.

This was the week of “Clearing the Board,” that being running floor
sessions AM and PM for a while to vote on the bills that have been
waiting their turn on the calendar. In addition to getting through the
bills we had the annual memorial for former House members that had
passed away during the interim. One that was honored this year was one
that I served with, Claude Judd from North Idaho. He was principled and
I gained great respect for him.

We were tangled up on a bill to designate some rivers as wild and
scenic, and it was one of those bills that failed by one vote. It also
contained a moratorium on building any more dams on those same rivers.
He was approached by a young lady during the lunch break in an effort to
get him to call for the bill to be reconsidered. He listened patiently
and when she finally gave him a chance to speak, he called her by name
and said, “Young lady you are too young to remember Idaho without
dams. I am not, and because of that I will not change my mind.”

As I mentioned, a lot of what we did here this week may not have moved
the earth much, and I am sure there are those who knew Representative
Claude Judd that would have thought he was not one to cause much of a
stir. But in his own way he was a steadying influence on the process.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Property Rights, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

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