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Guest Post: Friedman/IVA Poll Shows only 12% of Idahoans Would Choose Regular Public School if Given a Choice

March 28th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

A poll commissioned by the prestigious Friedman Foundation and co-sponsored by the Idaho Values Alliance and Education Excellence Idaho found that only 12% of Idahoans would chose a “regular public school” if they had a full range of options.

Even more striking, this figure drops to just 4% among Idahoans age 36-55, who are the chief consumers of public education services in Idaho.

This is an astonishing number, because it tells us that the more Idaho’s parents use conventional public education, the less they like it. This is the most powerful argument possible for increasing school choice in the Gem State.

The survey revealed that 25% of Idahoans would, however, choose charter schools, which are public schools free from much of the bureaucratic red tape that hampers education reform in conventional public schools.

The favorability rating of charter schools number jumps to over 70% among the 36-55 demographic.

This tells us that we need to make it easier for charter schools to open in Idaho, and lift the cap on charter school expansion, which currently limits the number of charter school startups to no more than six per year.

The survey also reveals that 39% of Idahoans would choose private school options if that alternative was accessible to them. This is a compelling reason for the legislature to consider education tax credits, which would allow Idaho’s parents a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for the money they spend on private school tuition.

Education tax credits would make private school options more accessible to Idaho parents, and would cause genuine school choice to flourish.

Friedman/IVA Poll Results

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Taxes | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Legislature Gives Final Approval to Cercion Bill

March 28th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

The Idaho Senate voted today 29-6 to create the crime of abortion-coercion in Idaho. HB654 now awaits the Governor’s signature.

This new act defines the coercion of an abortion as a crime for the first time since the Supreme Court forced America to allow abortions in our communities. The law defines ‘coercion’ too narrowly – but is a major step forward.

Among the more important features of this legislation is the creation of a right for victims of coercion to sue the perpetrators – even if a criminal prosecution does not take place.

We want to publicly thank the bill’s sponsors – Rep. Bob Nonini and Sen. Monty Pearce for their leadership and commitment in getting this done for Idaho’s women and preborn children.

We also want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions made to this effort by Dr. David Reardon and the Elliot Institute. We made generous use of his groundbreaking research into the whole problem of forced abortions – and it was decisive in framing the legislative debate.

With your support, we hope to build upon this victory in coming months. Among our goals this year is to produce a pamphlet educating women about their rights under the law and the dangers of submitting to an abortion against their wills.

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

Guest Post: ACLU Tries to Use Court to Impose Values on Private Company in Idaho

March 27th, 2008 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

The ACLU, never content to allow public policy to be established by our elected representatives, is now threatening to go to court to force a private company doing business in Idaho to violate its own policies for employees.

The situation involves an employee of the Konica Minolta company, which provides benefits to “domestic partners” in states which have a domestic partner registry. This employee has a same-sex “domestic partner,” who was covered as long as the couple lived in New Jersey.

But they have since moved to Idaho, where voters enacted the Marriage Amendment in 2006 with 63% of the vote, an amendment which prohibits the state from recognizing civil unions or domestic partnerships.

The company’s policy is quite clear, saying that eligibility is restricted to homosexual couples who “obtain a certificate of registration of domestic partnership from the state or municipality in which he or she resides.” This, of course, cannot happen in Idaho.

The ACLU has sent a “demand letter” to the company, insisting that it violate its own company policy by giving benefits to this same-sex couple, benefits they are not legally entitled to.

Notice it is a “demand” letter, coming from an organization that it always telling us how wrong it is to force moral views down other people’s throats. Apparently the ACLU has carved out an exception for itself, and has no problem using activist courts to cram its own moral views down the throats even of private companies.

The letter contains an implied threat of a lawsuit, which the ACLU helpfully reminds the company will be filed in the Ninth Circuit, the most notoriously liberal Court of Appeals in the country. In going to court, they are trying to get a judge to force private companies doing business in Idaho to have their policies dictated to them by the government of New Jersey. So much for the United States as a “laboratory of democracy.”

The ACLU apparently looks at our state constitution as an inconvenience which can be swatted away or ignored at any place it serves as a check on the radical homosexual agenda. The ACLU is intent on forcing society to endorse and legitimize homosexual relationships as the moral equivalent of normal marriages whether that represents the will of the people or not.

This story has received considerable attention in the national gay press.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature | No Comments »

Bannock County Commission Spending Out of Control

March 27th, 2008 by Halli

By Ed Cook

The two newest County Commissioners, Ghan and Whitworth, are being exposed as politicians first and public servants last. By voting themselves and their friends raises and increasing their budget by ten million dollars they are heaping huge burdens on our (the taxpayers’) backs during a recession. In so doing they have obviously placed their political and personal needs and wants above every citizen in Bannock County. How much longer will AMI remain in Pocatello? Do the Commissioners not know of the long perceived layoffs at AMI? Is there any fore-thought about our economic realities and the challenges we face as our elected leaders pile more burdens on citizens during a deepening recession?

Did we not just lose Ballard, which added to the losses of Astaris and numerous other companies? These politicians, who are so willing to spend, are not experienced businessmen and are unwilling to give the economic engine a chance to start pulling its own weight. Their focus is money and they believe that only more money will solve the problems. There are no boundaries to what politicians first are willing to heap on us and grind our hopes. As long as they and their friends prosper the community is fine.

Do they really need $60,000 a year instead of $55,000? Isn’t the average household income in this area still below $25,000? Many individuals are working 3 jobs in retail stores just to survive while sacrificing quality time with their own children. When our leaders know the situation, how do they justify telling us, “We cannot live on $55,000 a year and must have an 8% raise even if others struggle?

Was the recent state property tax relief a license for local leaders to neutralize a major victory for property owners? In spite of touted economic improvements, our community has never recovered from major blows where higher salaried employers have been removed as industry pulls out. New companies, which are mainly retail, cannot take up that slack. Surely these two commissioners know these things but are choosing to make a grab for money while they still can.

Richard Larsen (also here) has clearly identified what the Commissioners have done and that these things are legal. Legal, or not, their entire modus operandi has never been for the best interests of this community and never will be. The course they are taking us on is going to destroy every hope of future prosperity. Have they so quickly forgotten that this community just rejected a $20 million BOND for the Holt that was going to be on our taxes for 20 years? Our glorious Commissioners have just added $10 million to their budget, and guess who is paying for it?

Election time rolls around in a couple of years and we are expected to forget all the shenanigans these two have pulled with the hospital and, in the same vein, their unwise tax liberties will fade away. People forgetting by the time the election arrives is a calculated part of their plan. Steve Hadley has consistently voted against these Hospital shenanigans and unwarranted tax increases. Perhaps people will not forget that point during the next re-election cycle.

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

House Highlights – March 26

March 27th, 2008 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher

It seems for some reason we usually want to leave the heavy lifting in a legislative session until the very last. We lived up to that reputation as we dealt with most of the appropriations bills in the House this week. Two of the transportation budgets were among them.

The main transportation spending plan, which is funded entirely from non general fund sources, was approved without much discussion. The other measure was the GARVEE (more debt for roads) bill that borrows an additional 134 million dollars for construction. The Best debate of the day went to Rep. Leon Smith of Twin Falls who gave the best reasons why all of this borrowing is not a good idea. His best point was that after this new amount is borrowed, we will be the most heavily leveraged state that uses the GARVEE road funding mechanism.

After getting warmed up on GARVEE about the next bill out of the chute was a resolution to authorize borrowing seventy million dollars to build a new secure mental health facility. There have been some cash reserves set aside for this project but we seem to be in the borrowing mood these days. Even more troubling is the design of the facility that will in allow mentally ill persons who have not committed a crime but have violent behaviors to be in “prison.” Still more troubling is the possibility of mixing the aforementioned individuals with those who have committed and been convicted of crimes.

The public school budgets all passed the House easily as well. The ISTARS proposal did not get passed, so the result was to put the available resources into the budget for teacher salary increases and benefit costs. Several of our school districts were concerned about the discretionary funds portions of the budget. I was told that there has been a relaxing of the restrictions on those moneys.

After all of the discussion about election consolidation that has been taking place for the entire session, the sponsors asked for the bill to be held in the State Affairs Committee. There were too many problems to iron out before the end of this session. It was obvious to the committee however, that not enough homework had been done by the sponsors with the affected parties — counties, cities, taxing districts and the Secretary of State.

The Minority party proposed a two cent sales tax on gas and diesel for Transportation. What does that mean for fuel costs? That’s six cents plus per gallon of Gas and eight cents per gallon of diesel at current prices. Their idea for registration fees was to double them in most cases. That includes farm trucks, semis and cars. This may be popular somewhere, but I’ve been unable to find out where.

“The boxes are in the hall,” (we’re all issued boxes to take our files, etc.) is the cry around the chambers which is the strongest signal that this will soon be at an end for another year. Did I mention that the Governor line item vetoed an appropriation bill? It was one of his budgets. Strange you may say, strange indeed.

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

Guest Post: Coercion Bill Before Senate State Affairs Today

March 26th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

HB 654, legislation which will criminalize forced abortions in Idaho, passed the Idaho House yesterday by an overwhelming 55-11 margin. Today, we have an opportunity to explain the problem of coerced abortions to the Senate State Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Curt McKenzie, Republican of Nampa.

The opposition on the House floor was led by Boise Democrat Reps. Phylis King, Bill Killen and Nicole LeFavour.

Rep. Killen offered a series of questions during debate which suggested he had not actually read the bill – expressing fears that men might be charged with criminal coercion even in cases where the victim was unaware of the coercion.

The major thrust of opposition seemed to focus on the fact that the bill did not specifically provide for the coercion of women to give birth.

Bill sponsor Rep. Bob Nonini (R-CdA) responded by observing that a wealth of federal protections for the so-called right to an abortion exist – from the FACE Act to dozens of court decisions; on the other hand, virtually nothing has been done in the country to defend a woman’s right to give birth.

That argument was insufficient to dissuade ten House Democrats and one Republican (Tom Trail – Moscow) from opposing this very modest protection for pregnant women and girls.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | 1 Comment »

Guest Post: Idaho House Takes Up Coercion Bill Today

March 25th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

We are expecting the Idaho House of Representatives to approve HB 654, legislation which will make it a crime to force a woman to submit to an abortion.

This is not the bill we were hoping to pass. It has been narrowly drawn to define “coercion” as including only assault and battery. From our two-year study of this serious problem, it is clear that ‘coercion’ takes many forms – all of them potentially deadly to the mother and baby.

Those additional protections will have to await another legislative session.

The problem has been the Abortion Lobby – principally Planned Parenthood. Their repeated threats to sue in federal court if we persist in efforts to protect women from forced abortion have had an effect on legislators. They simply refuse to allow the State to interfere with their business practices, which obviously involve doing abortions on women and girls they suspect are under duress.

HB 654 does not do what is necessary to create a safe zone around women and girls dealing with a difficult pregnancy. But it is a beginning. It establishes the concept of abortion-coercion in Idaho Law for the first time; in fact – we think this may be the first such law in the nation.

As we approach the final days of the 2008 Legislative Session, we ask that you remain vigilant with your calls and prayers.

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

Guest Post: Comparing Religious Perspectives – Obama and Romney

March 24th, 2008 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Perhaps it was inevitable that the Clinton vs. Obama showdown for the Democratic nomination would devolve into a race-baited contest. What couldn’t have been foreseen, at least for many, is Barack Obama would be, if not the initiator of it, at least the perpetuator of it.
Some of the highly incendiary sermons of Senator Obama’s pastor and spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright of The Trinity United Church of Christ came to light this week. In a move at damage control, Mr. Obama made a speech this week to address his church and his relationship with the pastor. He instead made it a speech about race.

This is becoming increasingly uncomfortable. It’s easy to foresee a time when, if Obama is elected, any discussion about policy will be contorted to a discussion about race in order to obfuscate or at least blur the issue at hand.

Granted, the kind of black liberation theology that is proselytized by Rev. Wright and his church is inextricably linked with the culture Obama has tried to associate with in order to establish his bona fides as a black politician, according to Juan Williams of PBS. This is understandable to an extent since he was raised by a white grandmother, whom he threw under the bus in his speech for being “a typical white person” herself, and was not raised in the environment characterized by his church.

Since Wright’s controversial statements were made in the context of sermons from the pulpit, and fit a pattern of such diatribes against white people and America in general, it should be safe to say that his comments reflect part of his church’s belief system, or theology if you will. Such a characterization would be true to black liberation theology.
Mitt Romney was theologically crucified over his Mormon Church teachings. While still a candidate, he was constantly grilled about his faith, its theology, and their influence on him. This required Romney to deliver his landmark speech in Houston last fall about religion in America. Pundits were divided over whether he addressed sufficiently the issue of inculcation of his faith by his Mormon parents. Many praised his speech, while his detractors claimed he sidestepped the issue.

In the case of Obama this week, he not only sidestepped the issue, he contorted and twisted the issue from one of faith and religious association to one of race. This was not surprising considering the tenets of his church and his pastor are anathema to mainstream Americans.

Romney is now out of the race. But in the spirit of fairness, let’s engage in a little comparative religious analysis of just two tenets from Obama’s church and Romney’s.

According to Rev. Wright, “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strikes law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God d—- America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God d—- America for treating our citizens as less than human. God d—- America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”

From Romney’s spiritual leader, Mormon President, Gordon B. Hinckley, “Bless this chosen land that it may remain forever free, that peace and liberty may bless the lives of its people, and that righteousness may reign in the land.”

Regarding the attacks of September 11, 2001, Rev. Wright yelled to his congregation, “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

President Hinckley in October, 2001, “You are acutely aware of the events of September 11, less than a month ago. Out of that vicious and ugly attack we are plunged into a state of war. For the first time since we became a nation, the United States has been seriously attacked on its mainland soil. But this was not an attack on the United States alone. It was an attack on men and nations of goodwill everywhere. It was cruel and cunning, an act of consummate evil.”
These are just two examples, but the pattern should be clear. In short, there is little in Mr. Obama’s theology and belief system to indicate he’s a unifier. The hate speech spewed forth by his minister of twenty years is racist, hateful, divisive, and anti-American. Next to Obama’s church and its racism and hate, Mormon teachings sound downright orthodox.

In light of this, I think I would much rather have a Mormon President, or even neighbor for that matter, than someone from Obama’s church, including the Senator. I think we’ve heard enough hate this week from Rev. Wright to last a lifetime. We don’t need any more.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

House Highlights – March 19

March 20th, 2008 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher

As we are coming down what might be called the home stretch for this
session, I was visiting with a fellow House member about the number of
bills we were going through each day. He commented that he hoped we
would not get going so fast that we would make a lot of mistakes. My
response was that is why we have so much clean –up legislation the
next year.

In one way or the other we have been working on the naturopath
licensing dilemma for most of the time we have been here. First it was
the rules that were rejected and in the last few weeks it has been a
bill to change so much in the law that it totally would change the
original intent of the legislation that was enacted in 2005. It took
forty years to get the three main groups together enough to pass
legislation and now they are more fractured than ever. We thought we had
a deal worked out. In fact I was kidding one of the parties that we must
have the perfect bill because no one seems to like it. The whole thing
fell apart on Friday and the bill is back in Health and Welfare. So much
for compromise.

A lot of your money has been spent this week as the budgets continue to
go through the process. The largest one so far has been the Medicaid
portion of Health and Welfare coming in at just under one and one half
billion dollars. The bad news is that it is such a large amount and if
there is good news, at least it is not a double digit percentage
increase over last year’s budget. About one third of that is from the
State general fund and the remainder from the Feds. But it is still all
the taxpayers’ money.

Members of the Transportation Committee in the House have been working
on a plan to inject more revenue (that’s a polite way to say increase
taxes and/or fees) into the Department to cover what has been dubbed a
“shortfall” in funding for construction and maintenance this next
year. Under one of the ideas older car fees would double while newer
vehicles would go up forty percent. It is sinking in more and more that
if GARVEE (borrow to build roads) had not been started we would not find
ourselves in this magnitude of a situation. A friend at home asked me
how we could even think of these unfair increases when it is clearly the
time for some belt tightening.

The ninety three page election consolidation bill was introduced in the
State Affairs Committee this week. What the legislation seeks to do is
to have all elections except irrigation districts run by the counties on
four fixed dates each year. This is the most comprehensive election bill
ever and will have a hearing in House State Affairs this next week.
Voting would take place for all elections at the same polling places and
the sponsors argue that it would remove the confusion that has
surrounded some of the taxing district elections in the past. Four and
one half million dollars with an inflator for inflation would be made
available to the counties on an ongoing basis to pay for the process.

As I sat here writing this evening, I received a call from home telling
me of the passing of a good friend and former House member, Ray Infanger
from Salmon. I had the privilege of sitting next to him for four years
on the House floor. Great wisdom came from him every time he spoke.
Poetry from the great writers would come from his lips from memory and
with ease. His love for and ability to quote from the Constitution is
legendary. He was one of the great ones.

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

Guest Post: Two Idaho Leaders Honored at Reception

March 18th, 2008 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

Well over two hundred people turned out last night to join in the struggle to enact an anti-coercion law in Idaho. The revised legislation (HB654) now awaits action by the full House of Representatives.

If enacted, the law would be the first in the nation to make the coercion of an abortion a crime.
Last night’s Legislative Reception also featured the presentation of the Friend for Life Award to two distinguished public servants.

Sen. Mike Crapo was honored for his long and untarnished defense of preborn children, going back to his days in the Idaho State Senate, where he led efforts to enact HB625. For the current legislative session, Sen. Crapo has received a 100% rating from the Family Research Council for his votes on such crucial policy questions as taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, Embryonic Stem Cell Research and allowing foreign aid monies to be used to pay for abortions in other nations.

The award was presented to Crapo by Idaho Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, who received the honor in 2001.

In accepting the award, the organization’s highest, Sen. Crapo pointed to the crucial November elections and the necessity of electing a president who would appoint persons to the federal bench with a strict constructionist approach to the Constitution.

Idaho Chooses Life also honored state Senator Russ Fulcher for his long defense of preborn children and his leadership in securing a Parental Consent Law for Idaho families.

“It is a great blessing to have a person like Russ Fulcher in the Senate,” said David Ripley in presenting the award. “Russ brings tremendous integrity and skill to the battle for preborn children.”

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

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