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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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