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David Ripley: Simpson Fights for Taxpayer Rights

February 26th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Idaho’s Mike Simpson joined with 179 other members of Congress in signing a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairman David Obey, urging that they ensure that appropriations bills moved through the Congress retain the package of “pro-Life riders” which have become standard since the 1970’s.

The most well-known is the Hyde Amendment. These riders must be attached to appropriations bills in order to ensure that American taxpayers don’t pay for abortions.

The letter contains the signature of both Democrats and Republicans.

“We are grateful for Congressman Simpson’s leadership on this crucial issue,” said David Ripley, Executive Director of Idaho Chooses Life. “While the congressman is a member of the minority party, we believe his signature on this letter will carry special weight given his position on the House Appropriations Committee.”

Idaho Chooses Life wrote to Congressman Simpson last month, urging his signature on the letter, organized by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC).

The package of pro-Life riders protect not just taxpayers; some of the language protects the conscience rights of health care providers , while others deal with unethical medical research on aborted babies.

It appears that this effort has already had some impact. The omnibus appropriation bill now pending on the House floor reportedly contains most of these amendments. At this point, it appears that the big exception is one which specifically allows expanded funding of UNFPA- and removes the requirement that these international programs not use federal money in countries practicing coerced abortion.

It is hard to believe that Speaker Pelosi would take such a strong stand in defense of China’s coerced abortion policy, given her protestations of being an “advocate for women’s rights”. She and chairman Obey beat back an attempt by Rep. Chris Smith to strike this grossly anti-woman provision.

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

Idaho House Highlights: February 25

February 25th, 2009 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-31

Every year the main push of the session is to begin the budget setting
process after all of the agencies have presented their plans and the
governor has weighed in on them. The joint budget committee has been
working towards a budget that would reflect the revenue decreases that
have been taking place.

After the Congress passed and the President signed a “stimulus”
bill, Governor Otter immediately ordered the agencies to present plans
for the free federal money that “may” be on its way to Idaho. Also
with that order is a review of what strings are going to be attached and
if the state can live with them.

Monday was to be the first day of budget setting and now that possibly
will be delayed until after March 4th. I think we would be better off if
we just set our budgets without this new federal plan. One colleague
commented that these stings could more likely be a noose.

Believe it or not there is other business around here. The Midwifery
bill was introduced in State Affairs this week and after a year of work
we were told that a lot of the problems have been worked out with the
legislation. The translation to that is that a lot of the opposition to
licensing midwives has diminished and it looks at this point that there
will be progress made.

After a week of negotiating the legislation that changes the health
insurance for state workers who have retired, was voted out of committee
to the full House. After the last hearing on the bill I approached
Representative Crane to resolve his issues and he helped work out the
compromise. There were no dissenting votes in the committee.

The Health and Welfare Committee worked on a bill this week that was
to be the first of the proposed cuts for their budget. Having the
concerns that I do with county taxpayers getting costs shifted to them,
I went over the bill very carefully and could not find a problem. This
is one that I have no difficulty supporting.

And so it went for another week in the Capital Annex. One of the
lobbyists told me he wished we would just set the budget and get out of
town, as this little slowdown has the potential of “stimulating” more
bills. How does that old saying go? “The job always expands to fill
the time allotted.” And it most certainly would.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Idaho Legislature, Taxes | No Comments »

Bryan Fischer: Supreme Court Upholds Idaho’s Voluntary Contributions Act

February 24th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Values Alliance

One of the ways unions empower themselves is by using payroll deductions from union members for political purposes.

The teachers’ unions, for example, use teacher union dues to relentlessly promote the pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agenda even though these agendas have nothing to do with education, and even though many union members oppose these agendas and resent the co-option of their hard earned income for such purposes.

In 2003, Idaho lawmakers enacted the Voluntary Contributions Act, which prohibits public-sector payroll deductions for union political activities. This in turn protects the freedom of public employees to make voluntary decisions about whether and where some portion of their income may be used for political purposes, and disentangles the government from involvement in partisan political activity of any kind.

Idaho unions, chief among them the teachers’ union, sued, upset that their customary control of member union dues was being usurped by liberty and freedom of choice. But today the Supreme Court told them they have no legal argument and upheld the constitutionality of Idaho’s law.

The Court correctly observed that, contrary to the unions’ complaints, Idaho’s law does not in any way deprive them of their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. But neither does the First Amendment, the Court observed, “impose an obligation on government to subsidize speech.”

The unions are “free to engage in such speech as they see fit. They simply are barred from enlisting the State in support of that endeavor.”

The ban is perfectly fair, and applies to all employees, whether their political sympathies are liberal or conservative. No point of view is either favored or disfavored by the law.

But unions, accustomed to using the payroll deduction process to pad their coffers for political purposes, complained. But the law simply levels the playing field, and today’s ruling should be celebrated by all who love freedom of choice. Today was a good day for Idaho at the U.S. Supreme Court.

And a good day to thank God for Supreme Court jurists such as John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Sam Alito who are strict constructionists and are guided in their deliberations by original intent rather than trendy political agendas.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Falls Issues | No Comments »

Bryan Fischer: Bad Daycare Licensure Bill Introduced

February 24th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Values Alliance

Rep. George Sayler (D-Coeur d’Alene), who survived a stiff challenge from conservative Republican Jim Hollingsworth in November, is back with his annual attempt to further push the nose of nanny government into Idaho’s daycare system.

His bill (S1112) would require every daycare center which cares for at least four unrelated children to submit to onerous requirements for staff-child ratios, facility regulations and criminal background checks. It will necessitate an expanded taxpayer-funded bureaucracy to perform all the inspections and record-keeping that the bill will require.

There is little to no evidence that increased regulation of daycare centers does much to protect child health and safety. In fact, just last fall a licensed Idaho daycare center in Middleton suffered through an E. coli outbreak just five days after a government bureaucrat had given the center a clean bill of health. Parents who were counting on the state licensing program to protect the health of their children were sadly disappointed.

I spoke with a daycare center operator this morning who frankly acknowledged that meeting building code requirements, purchasing the license from the state, and paying for background checks and mandated training classes all combine to add substantially to the cost of doing business. How could they not? And of course these costs are passed directly on to working parents, whose take-home pay shrivels by the amount of the increase.

Perhaps it’s time to put parents back in charge of deciding whether a daycare center is safe enough for their children. This will have the added advantages of reducing the intrusive role of government, lowering the cost of daycare and lightening the burden for Idaho taxpayers.

A public hearing on this bill will take place on Wednesday, March 4 in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

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

Guest Post: Senator Questions Obama’s Eligibility

February 24th, 2009 by Halli

by Andi Elliott

Finally, a Senator that publicly questions the validity of Obama to be President !

Senator Shelby of Alabama has “gone public” with questions about Obama’s US citizenship or lack thereof. Questions are increasing as more information is forth coming or should I say…not forthcoming, about Obama not being constitutionally qualified for the office?

It does seem that this would be a simple matter to resolve. What would it cost? $12.50 or so…I’ll pay! Merely produce a valid Certificate of Live Birth (experts say that the one on Obama’s website it not official) but no…hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent (could this be at the taxpayers’ expense?) to hire 3 law firms to make certain that his birth certificate, college records, and passport files remained sealed.

So much for a “transparent administration”.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Presidential Politics | 1 Comment »

Richard Larsen: Broken Promises and Trojan Horses

February 23rd, 2009 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The other night Jay Leno remarked that Congress celebrated President’s Day and George Washington’s throwing a dollar across the Potomac, by throwing $780 billion down a rat hole. If we were to look for a poster-child for the truism, “Haste makes waste,” we need look no further than the recent “stimulus” bill. Let’s clear up the semantics here: this bill is not stimulative to the economy, it’s simply the largest spending bill in U.S. history. The only thing stimulated by it is government growth and control, and further encroachment on states’ rights and individual liberty. States and municipalities that accept funding do so with many strings attached, and the most common one throughout the bill is federal government control.

This bill, as we have already chronicled, included twelve cents of actual stimulus for every one dollar spent, and that will take years to put to work. The rest of the bill reads like a veritable spending wish list for Speaker Pelosi’s pet causes. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rushed the bill through without even having a working copy for all the Congressmen to read. Not one legislator in either chamber could have possibly read the 1079 pages in the twelve hours each house had to consider it. Republicans were excluded from the negotiations for the final versions from both the House and the Senate.

Bipartisanship typically means both parties working together for the common good and hammering out compromises. The Obama, Pelosi, and Reid version of bipartisanship obviously means Republicans must abandon their principles in order to even have a place at the table.

As President Obama began addressing the issue of economic stimulus, he made several promises. At least eight of those promises he broke with this spending bill. 1. Make government open and transparent. 2. Make it “impossible” for Congressmen to slip in pork barrel projects. 3. Meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. 4. No more secrecy. 5. Public will have five days to look at a bill. 6. You’ll know what’s in it. 7. We will put every pork barrel project online. 8. He would wait for five days for public input before signing legislation.

One of the many Trojan Horses in the bill is the reversal of Welfare Reform, the most significant accomplishment of the Clinton Administration (which he didn’t even want to sign) and the Gingrich-led Congress. That 1996 legislation changed how states were funded for welfare case loads, and placed the emphasis on employment assistance to needy families, rather than rewarding states for increasing their welfare case loads. It reduced the number of people on welfare by 60%, and increased employment of the most disadvantaged by 78%, according to the Brookings Institute.

The final form of the new stimulus bill contains a half dozen or more new welfare entitlements or expansions to benefits in existing programs. The pretense that these welfare expansions will lapse after two years is a political gimmick designed to hide their true cost from the taxpayer. If these welfare expansions are made permanent, as history indicates they will, the welfare cost of the stimulus will rise another $523 billion over 10 years, according to economist Robert Rector, credited with the successful welfare reform of thirteen years ago.

Even more startling is how all Americans’ health care will be affected. The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (pages 445, 454, 479). It creates a new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. Part of his department’s responsibility will be to “monitor treatments” provided by doctors to make sure your doctor is doing what the government deems “appropriate and cost effective.” The model is based on Tom Daschle’s book last year on health care, where he asserts that doctors have to give up their autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Daschle’s model, which is now law, will affect our senior citizens most dramatically. Daschle says “health-care reform will not be pain free.” And that “Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.” In other words, if you’re 78 and have a heart condition, don’t be surprised if some government wonk in D.C. vetoes your doctor’s orders for a stent or a valve replacement.

When the economy recovers, and it will, it will occur in spite of this massive pork-filled spending bill, not because of it. But the pejorative impact on future growth will be felt for years as the weight of the costs will curtail economic growth. So much for “change!” This is just the same old dance, just more corpulent and faster.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Politics in General, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: The Self-Centeredness of the “Pro-Choice” Movement

February 20th, 2009 by Halli

From David Ripley, Idaho Chooses Life

A story out of Mexico highlights both the dangers of President Obama’s support for abortion in foreign countries and the extraordinary self-centeredness of his “pro-choice” movement.

Amnesty International held several protests last week in Mexico City, demanding that the government force doctors to perform abortions and provide “emergency contraception”, regardless of their personal moral or religious objections. The left-wing group has been working hard since at least 2007 to persuade whoever will listen that abortion is a fundamental, international, human right. The protesters claim that the Mexican government is violating international treaties by not coercing doctors to participate in abortions.

There are more than ironies to be mined here.

First, please note that these are the international politics which the Obama Administration is financing with our tax dollars. Not only is that morally wrong – it is coercive, because it compromises the moral integrity of any and all American taxpayers who might hold the killing of preborn children a great wrong.

But this moral coercion is at the heart of the abortion movement: In the name of a woman’s “right to choose”, the rest of us are left to stutter in the street without any particular right to act on our moral convictions. Oh we can still hold signs and write letters; but those days are probably numbered as the Abortion Lobby seeks to use government power to achieve compliance with their deadly agenda.

What of the Mexican doctors who know killing an innocent human being is wrong? Too bad. Or perhaps not so bad … because for the Abortion Lobby to even lend that token consideration, it would have to acknowledge the moral reality of Others. What of the father who wants to see his child receive the gift God has bestowed? That could be a bit sad, depending on the worthiness of the father. And so the list goes: siblings, cousins, grandparents all stripped of any choice as to whether their brother or granddaughter will be allowed to live.

For the time being, we can at least rejoice in the fact that the Mexican government is so far resisting this outrage from Amnesty International.

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

Bryan Fischer: Closed Primary Case Argued in Federal Court

February 19th, 2009 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

Attorney Christ (rhymes with wrist) Troupis, whom many will recognize as the attorney who successfully fought for our right to vote in the battle with Boise over the Ten Commandments, argued effectively in federal court yesterday that Supreme Court rulings obligate the state of Idaho to allow the Republican Party in Idaho to restrict participation in primary elections to those who are willing to register publicly as members of the party.

Country club Republicans, who tend to be skittish if not downright embarrassed when social issues emerge in public policy, like open primaries in part because it makes it easier for moderate Republicans and harder for conservative Republicans to win primary contests. Social conservatives prefer closed primaries for the obvious and opposite reasons. They like not letting the other team help them pick their starting lineup.

The Idaho Republican Party has adopted a rule which requires that its primaries be closed, and the Supreme Court has ruled that associational rights guaranteed them under the First Amendment require the state to honor that rule.

In response to a question regarding the additional costs that might be imposed, Troupis responded “deftly” (Judge Winmill’s word) that constitutional rights trump any moderate increase in costs.

Winmill seemed to be leaning in the direction of the closed primary position, and if so, may well issue a ruling in time for the legislature to take necessary action this year.

Political considerations may be playing a role here. This is a case that may well make its way to the Supreme Court, which may make the Idaho attorney general’s office eager to keep fighting for open primaries since the dream of every attorney is to argue a case before the Supreme Court.

And Judge Winmill, who may have Supreme Court aspirations of his own, will want to produce an opinion that is likely to be upheld by the Supreme Court should the case make it that far. No judge wants to suffer the indignity of having one of his prominent rulings overturned by the high court.

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

Idaho House Highlights: February 18

February 18th, 2009 by Halli

From Representative Tom Loertscher, R-31

This week marked the introduction of the one hundredth bill in the
House and it is that time of session when ideas seem to be coming at us
from every direction. Some of the pieces that came forward are
generating emails and phone calls and will undoubtedly provide a lot of
discussion over the next few weeks.

One of those items has to do with public school teacher salaries and it
would lift the requirement that a teacher cannot be paid less than the
previous year. This is not palatable for anyone but we have limited
choices as we get closer to budget crunch time. One choice would be to
have layoffs and increase class size, another is to allow districts the
flexibility to cut salaries. The third option would be to raise taxes.
And legislators including myself are wondering how anyone wins with
those choices.

One of the favorite things to do in some committee meetings is to
decide not to decide, especially when it seems there is a lack of
understanding of the issue. That is what happened in the State Affairs
Committee this last week while we were hearing a bill that would change
the benefit for state retirees health coverage. Moving the retired state
workers from the state plan would save the state (aka the taxpayers)
millions over the next few years. The committee needed some time for
further review and to identify any potential adverse affects. It is a
very complex issue and will be looked at again this coming week.

The revenue numbers came in for January and they continue to decline at
a faster rate than we have ever seen. It was down another thirty three
million dollars and that is causing another look at every state budget
for the current fiscal year. As that started to occur this week I got to
thinking that we are probably going about this the wrong way. In the
private sector when we have hard times come we start evaluating what we
are doing and then we stop doing the things that are not absolutely
necessary. This is the time we should at least be evaluating programs
and eliminate those that are not needed. If we just reduce everything by
some percentage then the programs just remain in place to live again
another day.

At home this week I was asked several times about the Federal
“Stimulus” Package. What would it do for Idaho? Is Idaho going to
be willing to take what is going to be dished out?

I answered in this manner. Every time lawmakers either state or federal
pass bills in a big hurry they make big mistakes. This has been done too
fast and no one knows what all is in the thing. We don’t know what
strings are going to be attached and you can bet there will be plenty of
them. The bigger question now is, are we going to be willing to sell
ourselves to the federal government? I view this as the biggest power
grab in the history of America. So much for states’ rights.

I believe it was Margaret Thatcher that said something like, “These
spending plans ultimately fail because at some point you run out of
other peoples’ money.” By the way, do you have any idea how much a
trillion dollars is? I have a hard enough time using the word billion.

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

David Ripley: Embryo Stem Cells have Disastrous Effect

February 18th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

President Obama has made it clear he is ready to overturn the Bush ban of federal money for research involving human embryo stem cells. As he prepares his Executive Order, one can only hope that he notices a recent story from Israel.

Doctors there have been treating a boy who was injected with embryo stem cells when he was just 10 years old, and again at 12. The news report suggests that the injections were performed in Russia as his parents sought a miracle cure for a condition called ataxia telangiectasia.

Unfortunately for the boy, in the years since, he has developed massive tumors in his brain stem and spinal cord.

Scientists in Israel have conducted extensive tests to determine the cause of the tumors, and have concluded that the embryo stem cells are to blame.

Their research is about to published in PLoS Medicine – a magazine produced by the Public Library of Science.

As President Obama forces American taxpayers to become silent investors in companies engaging in such immoral therapies, one wonders if we shall also become liable for the monstrous consequences of experiments gone awry.

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

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