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Idaho House Highlights: Session End

May 13th, 2009 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-31

As we were waiting for the Senate to send one last budget bill to us so that we could finish our business and put a final end to this session, I couldn’t help but think that this was not the ending any of us had in mind. So now that it is over we all have to ask ourselves what we have to show for seventeen weeks in Boise? There is quite a bit actually, and even some things that you may not read anywhere else.

One very significant issue was the passage of election consolidation. This bill will put all elections on no more than four dates per year, all to be conducted by the county clerks. Polling places will be consistent for all elections and the hope is that it will increase voter turnout and eliminate some of the confusion that has surrounded where to vote particularly for school elections.

Another issue that occupied a great deal of time was the Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan that has put in place a framework for recharging these underground reservoirs. It also provides for a prudent method of financing the efforts that after some compromising should be fair to all water users. I still have some concerns about the process, and only time will tell how much we are able to achieve. And while this first effort is in the Snake River Plain, it will eventually be used in Bear River Basin as well.

Another matter that will have a long term affect on Bear Lake and other lakes and streams is the program that was enacted to keep Quaga and Zebra muscles from getting a start here. These little critters are very destructive to irrigation systems, electrical generation turbines and to the general health of bodies of water.

We were able to keep fuel tax and registration fees from increasing, which is a good thing given the state of the economy and the record number of dollars available to ITD over the next two years. In our rural corner of Idaho fuel tax increases have a very different effect than they have on urban areas.

I wish I could say that we did not increase any taxes, but that was not to be. Counties will have to pay more for indigent claims because of the increase in deductable for the Catastrophic fund and a new layer of bureaucracy at Health and Welfare. This will cause about a million and a half dollars of property tax increases state wide. I was unable to convince my colleagues that this was not a good idea.

Funding for schools was shorted for what some say is the first time ever. In light of current circumstances it may be the best we could have done, but nonetheless it is quite painful. We did however provide some flexibility to local districts that should make them better able to meet their needs. Another area of concern is that services to the mentally ill and the disabled were also cut. Long term shifting some of these expenses to counties and institutional settings could end up costing more.

And how would I score this session? It is hard to say, for that is in the eye of the beholder. But one thing is for certain, it was most difficult. In tough times thing never are simple and as we look forward – it probably won’t be any easier next year. And that is the optimistic view.

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

David Ripley: Obama to Expand Death Culture Through “Health Care”

May 12th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

National Right to Life columnist Dave Andrusko published an important piece last week on the cold agenda underlying President Obama’s drive for “universal health coverage”. By creating a federalized system of health care, the leftists running the White House believe they can achieve their golden dream of “mainstreaming abortion”.

Through federal rules and a bureaucracy marshaled by flaming abortion fan Kathleen Sebelius, the Obama Administration intends to impose abortion on every corner, fold and laboratory of the health care system. They hope to make abortion coverage mandatory and accessible in every community, paid for by American taxpayers.

Andrusko quotes Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards as outlining the true health care agenda:

“I think the big picture is how do we make sure all women and families, regardless of their income, can get access to the full range of health care options, and I think health care reform is going to provide a platform for doing that.”

Her bold statement allows us to put various Obama initiatives into their proper perspective. For example, Obama’s attack on conscience protections is a vital step toward making sure that abortion is available on demand, regardless of income or location.

As we have observed in previous columns, abortion is only one chapter of Obama’s “Book of the Dead” being written for us. His health care agenda poses an equally lethal threat to older and disabled Americans who will soon face rationed treatment as a means to “controlling run-away costs”. Those outlandish costs, of course, will be the direct and inevitable result of the government’s take-over of our health care system.

What makes this all the more outrageous is that average Americans will get precious few opportunities to make their opposition felt. Like most of his radical agenda, President Obama and his allies in Congress are moving with lightning speed by circumventing the historical legislative process. The social engineers now in charge of the White House will certainly not risk a repeat of Hillary Clinton’s health care meltdown. They will not allow congressional hearings and oversight – our best opportunity for effective opposition.

This impending health care disaster may be the single most destructive act by President Obama in his entire term. The only greater crime will have been committed by members of Congress, who have abdicated their constitutional duty to scrutinize the demands of an ideologically-obsessed Executive Branch.

Our Fouding Fathers blessed us with a system of government in which there were three operational branches of government, checking, balancing and scrutinizing one another – regardless of party. At least for the time being, we seem to have just one.

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

Richard Larsen: Obama’s Transformational Business Practices

May 12th, 2009 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Part of Obama’s transformation of America seems to be conversion of the Executive Branch of government from a law enforcer into a Machiavellian mafia. Notorious for extending “an offer you can’t refuse,” mafias infamously force people to do things they wouldn’t normally do to achieve their ends. This week the presidents’ team did just that to Chrysler creditors.

The President had arranged a salvific “marriage” between the struggling American car maker and Fiat by executive fiat, without so much as legislative authorization. Part of the deal was to give 55% ownership to the United Auto Workers. But to make it work, current Chrysler creditors had to agree to the deal.

Most of Chrysler’s creditors agreed to the President’s terms. They also were extended “an offer they can’t refuse,” as they were recipients of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds from the government. But about 20 creditors, bond holders, were castigated by the President for holding out. In now customary Obama fashion, he demonized the investors, and those representing them, for trying to only lose 50% of their principal, rather than 75% of it.

Said Obama, “A group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout.” For being such a smart guy and a lawyer, he doesn’t seem to understand investing, creditor obligations, and the world of business very well. But apparently that doesn’t matter as he continues to transform the world of American business where contracts don’t matter. The bond (debt) holders and equity owners of Chrysler get literally pennies on the dollar, while the UAW, who had no ownership stake in the company, come out like bandits.

A group of Chrysler lenders said in a statement earlier this week that they’d been treated worse than junior creditors during the negotiation process with the White House, in violation of “long-recognized legal and business principles.” Well, folks, welcome to the transformative business world of the Obama administration, where legal contracts are subjugated to the “rights” of loyal political supporters who are “entitled” to paybacks.

The other aspect of this tragedy that is so troubling is the threats made by the White House against those Chrysler lenders who were exercising their legal rights to recover more of their principle. According to Thomas Lauria, legal counsel for the non-TARP participant lenders, he and his clients were “directly threatened by the White House and compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under the threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight.” Lauria made the statements in a live radio interview on a Detroit radio show, and I saw him recount the experience again on CNBC on Wednesday.

Lauria told ABC News that his clients “are mainly fiduciaries for pension plans, college endowments, retirement plans and credit unions who invested in low yield supposedly very secure first lien debt” with Chrysler. He’s also referred to as a “big time Democratic contributor,” who would ostensibly have no other reason to make such a claim.

This shatters the notion of the press being an objective, independent reporting entity with no agenda. That the White House could threaten investors by promising that “the White House press corps would destroy [their] reputation if [they] continued to fight,” is not only shocking, but reprehensible! Has the mainstream media become such a puppet that they will simply do his bidding in destroying the reputations of anyone he asks them to? And is the White House so convinced of their control of the media that they can really make such a promise? Apparently so. If you’ve never felt you had sufficient cause to be wary of media “objectivity,” your security blanket has just been yanked away. The naked truth is laid bare for all to see.

Jim Carney of Business Insider validated Lauria’s recapitulation of the threat with testimony from two other participants. They refused to let Carney identify them, however, for they feared political repercussions as well. Gee, I wonder why? By the way, both of the participants were reported by Carney as being Obama supporters.

These mafia-like strong-arm tactics of the White House bode ill for GM investors. The precedent has been set, and the President will get his way, regardless of who he has to demonize or destroy in the process, and more political favors will be doled out at tax-payer expense. And Ford, who has been able to survive without government meddling thus far, may well become a target of the President will who will likely use any means possible to give them to the UAW as well. Welcome to the transformational business world of Obama.

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

Bryan Fischer: Conservative States Offer the Most Freedom

May 7th, 2009 by Halli

CONSERVATIVE STATES OFFER THE MOST FREEDOM

According to a new study released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Idaho is the fourth best state in the country in offering personal and economic freedom to its residents.

So if you think it’s bad here, imagine what it would be like to be stuck in Rhode Island, New Jersey, or New York, which bring up the rear.

Significantly, there is a strong correlation between conservatism and freedom on the one hand and liberalism and bondage on the other. The states that are most free tend to be the most conservative politically: S. Dakota, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, Virginia and N. Dakota join Idaho in the top ten, while the least free states are without exception bastions of statism run wild: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, Hawaii and California all have the dubious honor of being in the bottom ten.

This gives the lie to the myth that conservatives are the repressive ones. The truth, as is often the case, turns out to be the exact opposite. The more liberal a state is, the less likely it is to offer its residents genuine personal and financial freedom.

The basic instinct of the conservative is to be left alone, while the basic instinct of the liberal is to meddle. Conservatives have a high regard for individual autonomy, choice and personal responsibility, while statists, thinking they are smarter than everybody in the room, want to dictate lifestyle choices to as many of the benighted and unwashed masses as possible.

Freedom as defined by the Center is “the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same.”

New York, the least free state in the union, has the highest taxes in the country, high spending on social services, extremely high government debt, restrictive gun laws, and burdensome home school regulations.

Idaho, in contrast, has the lowest government debt ratio in the U.S., below average taxes and spending – although Mercatus says “Idaho could … improve its record here,” which gets no argument from me -, comparatively relaxed gun control laws, and no regulations on private or home schooling. The Center does point out that, in Idaho, “Individual income taxes are actually rather high,” so there is clearly room to make things better.

But this study reminds us we have many reasons to be grateful to live in Idaho, and plenty of incentive to work to keep it that way. Our mission at the IVA is to keep working to make Idaho the friendliest place in the world to raise a family, and we’d like to see Idaho in time occupy the top spot on the freedom poll.

Freedom in the 50 States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom

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

David Ripley: So Why is Walt Minnick a Democrat?

May 6th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Congressman Walt Minnick and his allies in the state’s press corps have done such an admirable job of portraying Minnick as a “conservative maverick”, it may be well to explore the question left begging: If Minnick is so conservative, so at odds with the leadership of his party – then why is he a Democrat?
It is probably fair to say that his years in the private sector and intellectual integrity have made him fairly immune to the anti-capitalist agenda which apparently drive Democrat leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. As a person who has managed successful companies in the private sector, Minnick has enjoyed firsthand the fruits of private property and individual initiative. In the first weeks of his term, Minnick’s voting record suggests that he does not share Obama’s obsession with eliminating the private sector as a major component of America’s economic future.
If one uses Congressman Mike Simpson’s voting record as a standard by which to judge “fiscal conservative”, then Minnick seems so far to meet that standard. So presumably, Minnick is a Democrat despite his disagreement with its position on fundamental economic matters.
And, we are informed by reliable sources, Minnick has been very aggressive in courting the gun lobby and Idaho gun owners. It is even possible that he will secure the endorsement of the NRA as that national organization seeks for Democrat support in the days of “Storm Obama”. So it can’t be gun control which inspires Minnick to tie his name to the Donkey’s tail.
That brings us to the heart of the matter – or perhaps we should say, to Minnick’s heart.
Based upon all we have seen from Minnick, it is fair to say that his passion for the environment and his heart-felt belief in the Democrat’s liberal social agenda explain his otherwise odd allegiance to the national Democrat Party.
Minnick has been a generous donor to organizations like the Idaho Conservation League. In fact, we are fairly certain he served for a time on its board.
We also know that Minnick has taken money from abortion providers – the guys who actually earn a fortune whacking babies while they sleep in the womb – so his radicla abortion politics are known, only waiting to be proven by his votes in coming months. Already he has voted to grant homosexuals special legal status, in defiance of Idaho public opinion.
While some Democrats will not be happy with Minnick’s fairly sane economic philosophy, we predict they will easily forgive that transgression because of his zealous defense of abortion-on-demand and the homosexual agenda. (In a speech at Pocatello a couple weeks ago, Minnick attempted to cloak his social radicalism by saying he believed in “constitutional and civil liberties”.)
The only question facing Idaho Republicans is whether they can find a candidate able to mount a challenge built around Minnick’s dangerous threat to Idaho families and the moral foundations of our communities.

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

Bryan Fischer: Idaho’s Governor and Senate on Verge of Political Suicide

May 5th, 2009 by Halli

Idaho Values Alliance

It is truly a bizarre experience to watch a Republican governor and a Republican-dominated Senate demand a tax increase in the midst of the worst Idaho economy in decades. This would appear to the objective observer to be a form of political suicide for elected officials who belong to what is supposed to be the party of fiscal restraint. The longer the $30,000-a-day legislature meets due to obstructionism from the governor and the senate, the worse they look – and should look – in the eyes of the electorate.

Particularly vulnerable: Gov. Otter, who is endangering his popularity and re-election chances by the week, and Sen. John McGee, who has hitched his wagon to Otter’s star and has become the leading advocate in the Idaho legislature for raising taxes on his constituents.

There is some speculation that the governor, who doesn’t seem to be having much fun, may be thinking of not running again and is determined to leave a tax increase for roads as part of his legacy. This certainly seems inexplicable to many who have watched Otter over his career serve as a fierce opponent of increased taxes and increased government spending.

One cannot help but wonder how much of the governor’s intransigence on this matter is due to pressure from contractors who want the tax increase so the state can pay them for construction projects. If so, the proposed tax increase is nothing more than a stimulus package, something we thought Republicans were supposed to be against.

Carrying the governor’s water on increasing taxes will certainly put a dent in Sen. McGee’s political ambitions, as he daily is giving future political opponents a cudgel with which to beat him about the head and shoulders in future campaigns.

As Rep. Raul Labrador pointed out at yesterday’s Tea Party II rally, constituent email has been running 15-1 against raising taxes right now. The senate and the governor are certainly on the wrong side of this issue, both politically and in principle.

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

Richard Larsen: Hate Crimes and Political Correctness

May 4th, 2009 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The inimitable Mark Twain once quipped, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the congress is in session.” In few areas is that more self-evident than in the attempt to criminalize what is in one’s heart. For some in congress, it’s not enough to put someone in jail for harming another, but if they have “hate” or a prejudice in their heart they should be incarcerated even longer and prosecuted by federal prosecutors. Not only does this tread dangerously on the ground of law enforcement essentially serving as “thought police” but it is also unconstitutional.

This week the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 was passed by the House and will undoubtedly be signed by the President. It identifies crimes which may have been perpetrated due to potential prejudice as federal criminal offenses, with the possibility of life imprisonment. According to the legislation, crimes motivated by the “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person” will be prosecuted at the federal level.

Legally, legislation like this is unnecessary. Under the 14th Amendment all citizens are treated equally under the law. If one is assaulted, it legally makes no difference whether the perpetrator was motivated by animosity, prejudice, or abject hatred. And ideally it makes no difference what color, sex, or sexual orientation the victim is. Most states already have hate crime legislation on the books, but by federalizing it, it takes us dangerously one step closer to “hate speech” regulation like Canada has.

Since this legislation is not legally necessary, the most likely motive behind it is the enforcement of political correctness or PC. PC is perhaps the greatest culprit leading to a degeneration of our culture and diluting our freedom of speech. Initially intended to make us more sensitive to issues of ethnicity and sexual orientation, which in and of itself is not only desirable but necessary in a society such as ours, it has advanced to an illogical extreme and elevates those protected by PC protocol to a level disallowed for the population at large. Such extremism can lead to the restriction of pastors from preaching publicly against homosexuality using verses from the Bible, as has occurred in Canada. It is one more example of the fact that those claiming to be “tolerant” are the most intolerant of all.

Judiciary Committee member Steve King (R-Iowa) confirms my fears. He said last week, “Their agenda is to shut down preaching of faith from the pulpit. Their agenda is to force public approval of the homosexual agenda. And destroying marriage nationally is the follow-up piece of this.”

King affords evidence of the proponents’ motives by the fact that he introduced an amendment that would have barred pedophiles from special protection under the Act. Majority members of the House Judiciary committee rejected his amendment. King continues, “I just think that tells you that this breaks down the logical approach to law. If we move away from punishing overt acts to punishing thoughts — which is what this legislation does — heaven help us [because] we’ve crossed a line from which it will be awfully hard to ever get back again.”
The Family Research Council has said of the legislation, that “…it would be used against individuals and churches who speak out on issues such as defending marriage and religious liberty.” That would mean that in any future efforts to legalize same-sex marriage as California experienced last year, any individual or organization, including churches, supporting traditional marriage, could be prosecuted under broad interpretation of the statute, even though verbiage in the bill ostensibly disallows it.

Anyone with a semblance of intellectual integrity should see this as one more step in enforcing PC. It’s just one more step toward stifling dissent and curtailing freedom of speech. Radical leftists already presuppose that the reason many of us support traditional marriage is because of “hate,” even though our reasons have nothing to do with it. This type of legislation affords statutory cover for officials to quell dissent and silence traditionalists. With everything else that is being done to “transform” America, nothing strikes so fatally at the heart of America’s freedoms then enforced political correctness does.

It is increasingly obvious that officials in the federal government have no idea what the Constitution says. And as a dear friend of mine, a high school history teacher reminded me recently, Niemoller said of the Nazis, “First they came for the Communists…” Then they came for everyone else. It appears the tactic is now being employed right here in America.

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

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