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Idaho House Highlights – April 22

April 22nd, 2009 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-31

It used to be that some around this process said there was a “Tractor
Factor” in the Idaho legislature. There were enough agriculturally
oriented legislators to recognize when spring had arrived and it was
time to get home to plant and bring this process to an end. That made me
think that this sometimes is a lot like types of ag equipment.

Tractors are like the state budget, you can’t operate without one and
now we are in the throes of finishing up on the budget for 2010, along
with some corrections to the 2009 budget. The budgeting process this
year has been more fluid than any I can remember, with many changes
along the way and not having a firm idea of what the numbers might look
like. Coupled with some disagreements with the executive branch about
how it should be done have lengthened the session a few days.

There is an old adage on the farm when you are approaching a hill in
the field you need to be in the right gear before you begin the ascent,
or you might not make it. And there are times when a bigger tractor
would come in handy but with limited resources it is not possible. And
that pretty much explains the budget dilemma this year. The Medicaid
budget cleared the House this week spending almost a billion and a half
dollars, and a larger share of that is slated to come from the Feds than
ever before. All we can do at this point is to hope that this tractor is
in the right gear.

One of my favorite farm implements is the plow. Seeing that dark rich
soil turned as you move through a field is very satisfying. Some times
in the legislature success and satisfaction can be measured in what does
not happen. A bill to make drastic changes in liquor licenses failed in
the House this week. It would have most certainly increased the number
of alcohol by the drink establishments and would have made it possible
to have those outside cities. We plowed over this one for a long time,
both in committee and on the floor.
My dad always told me that his favorite time of the year was the
harvest and that there was no feeling quite like seeing that red wheat
flow into the bin of the combine. The harvest is the culmination of the
farm year whether it is with the combine, the swather, the baler or the
digger. Harvesting is also one of those things that can’t be rushed in
most instances, because a year’s worth of work would be spoiled. On
the other hand if you don’t move when the crop is ripe it could be
lost as well. That is how it goes with legislation. We have been working
for weeks on several measures that needed to mature before they came to
the floor for “harvest.” Water issues were some of those having to
do with recharge of the aquifer and another was the Cystic Fibrosis
legislation.

Then we have the seedbed makers and planters and grain drills, those
machines that are the beginning stages of most if not all crops.
Sometimes good ideas around this place take a great deal of preparation
before they are planted. And I have seen the opposite when things get
introduced and passed too quickly. We sent one measure to the floor from
State Affairs this week that will make some changes to the redistricting
process. We’ve been contemplating these for a couple of years. It
looks like those plantings will soon bear fruit.

And then some of us have bulldozers. Let your imagination wander a bit.
That’s a whole other article by itself.

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