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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, February 28, 2010

February 28th, 2010 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-31

I can’t remember a time when we have had a chance to look at a preliminary budget blueprint that has had so many red numbers (budget decreases) on it. As it came to us at week’s end, it took the breath from some of us who have been busy with other committee assignments. It came as no big surprise, but to see it on paper jarred the senses a little. These first numbers include an anticipated decrease in the number of funded state positions by 400. That does not mean there will necessarily be 400 less employees, just 400 less positions available.

Sometimes legislation is introduced around this place to fire a shot across the bow of an agency, to get their attention and/or get their help on a problem. Rep. Gibbs and Senate Pro Tem Geddes came before State Affairs with our little bill to solve the septic tank issue that has caused problems in Franklin County. Little did we know that this has been a big problem elsewhere in Idaho and the committee’s response was quick to have it introduced. Rep. Anderson who sits next to me expressed pretty much what we have heard from others, “I like this bill!” It may have been a warning shot, but it has garnered not only the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality, but the support of a large number of legislators and others.

It must be the year of firsts, and another event took place that has not happened before. Governor Otter requested to come to the House Republican Caucus to discuss what happened with the public employee retirement increase. After the meeting the Associated Press did its best to try and get some comments from me about what had happened and what the Governor had said. I don’t think it appropriate to quote the governor, nor do I think it is my job to question his motives. Do I think less of the Senate for what happened? No, this is just what seems to be normal around here. And as Forest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that”

Another first this year has to do with the Speaker of the House Lawrence Denny. It has been traditional in the House to have some entertaining production on the Speaker’s birthday which was on Friday. Before we convened I asked him if there was another “skit” planned for the celebration this year. He has told me other years that he dreads what is about to happen, but I think he has been a good sport about the fun and games. Expecting something to happen as we were about to adjourn, the annual production conspicuously didn’t happen. I couldn’t tell if he was relieved or disappointed. It reminded me of the story I heard of the family that lived along the railroad tracks and were never awakened by the 3:00 AM train. Then one night it didn’t run and they all woke up and said, “What was that that?” It was sort of the same reaction.

And also for the first time, there seems to be a plan to get this wrapped up before April arrives. Now that is really a first. And if the wheels stay on this wagon it is doable. Just one little hiccup along the way could alter this. For the first time ever the Senate co-chair of JFAC is going to share the intent language for the education budget before it is set. It is a year for firsts indeed.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

David Ripley: Senate Passes Conscience Protections

February 27th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

By a vote of 21-13, the Idaho State Senate gave its approval to SB1353 this morning following lengthy debate.

In contrast to the committee hearing, much of the debate this morning was focused on the consequences of acknowledging the conscience rights of providers in end-of-life situations.

Sen. Les Bock (D-Boise) made one of the more emotional arguments against the bill by describing the decision-making of his family when faced with the challenge of creating a “peaceful resolution” for their mother’s life. He lamented the notion that a doctor or nurse might impose their moral or ethical concerns into a family’s plans for administering legal procedures designed to hasten death. Bock contended that acknowledging the conscience rights of medical professionals would only complicate already-difficult situations for families.

But, of course, what Bock failed to acknowledge is that families in such difficult circumstances do not have the right to forcibly implicate another – even their doctor — in immoral actions. Moreover, his argument failed to recognize that SB1353 only protects the right of a nurse or pharmacist or doctor to withdraw from treatments they find morally challenging.

Sen. Russ Fulcher responded by noting that it was the medical community itself which offered the language referring to “end of life treatment and care”, and that this broader definition would afford medical professionals an opportunity to exercise their moral and scientific judgment when faced with difficult situations.

Sen. Chuck Winder skillfully led the debate on behalf of the legislation, arguing that it struck a practical balance between the rights of medical providers, employers and patients.

Sen. Shirley McKague joined in defense of the legislation by reminding senators of the constitutional principles at stake in safe-guarding liberty. She offered a quote from Thomas Jefferson which featured conscience rights as our most precious liberty.

Republicans John Andreason, Joyce Broadsword, Chuck Coiner, Tim Corder, Shawn Keough, Joe Stegner and Gary Schroeder joined Senate Democrats in opposing the legislation.

SB1353 now goes to the House for a committee hearing.

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

Andi Elliott: Open Letter to Idaho State Bar, Sheriff’s Association, Governor and Attorney General

February 26th, 2010 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

To: Idaho State Bar
Idaho Sheriff’s Association
Office of the Governor
Office of the Attorney General

Re: Jefferson County Prosecutor Robin Dunn
Jefferson County Sheriff Blair Olsen

Dear Sir:

As the defendant in a criminal trespass case that has been scheduled since November, I am writing to express my concerns with the actions of the above county officials. It was my intent to wait until after the trial today but now, late yesterday afternoon, (after a witness from Boise and supporters from out of state have traveled to Idaho Falls) I have been told that it is rescheduled until May 4th. This last minute request for delay is inexcusable and especially in light of the fact that just last week in court, Mr. Dunn told the judge that the trial would take an hour. Also, I assume, that a timeframe of 6 months is still considered under the Constitution to be a “speedy” trial.

I have been charged with criminal trespass and you would think from the actions of the prosecutor and the time and resources devoted to this case that it is a capital murder offense. A Jefferson County Deputy (we have his written statement) asked me to go offer assistance to the owner of a dog who had been hit by a car and had multiple broken legs and had been left in the owner’s yard in the snow trying to nurse 7 or 8 puppies for, at that point in time, 3 days. Because of the failure of Sheriff Olsen to enforce Ch 25-3511 of the Idaho Codes, the dog was allowed to suffer “needlessly” for 5 days before help from outside of the county arrived and took the dog to the vet.

As the president of The Humane Society of the Upper Valley for 6 or 7 years, I have worked with the JCSD on many animal cruelty issues since 2002 and have even been written into a Jefferson County court order when the cruelty situation warranted it. (Ben Juenke Animal Cruelty probation violation.) HSUV continues to receive referrals from the JCSD for assistance with animal welfare issues as the county officials have stated that animals are not priority and therefore there no monies have been budgeted to deal with these issues. HSUV has picked up the bill for years and even at one point, with an especially horrendous case, I personally paid $2000 of a $2400 bill, so that Sheriff Olsen wouldn’t be stuck with such a huge expense.

In this current case in Mud Lake, ID, I was instructed by a JC Deputy to go to the home of the owner and offer assistance to the owner which I did on NOV 22. (The deputy’s statement corroborates this.) Upon arrival and seeing the condition of the dog from a neighbor’s yard (I had the neighbor’s permission to park in her drive). I immediately called for a deputy. The dog obviously needed medical care. It appeared that the dog had two broken legs that later was confirmed by veterinary x-rays. I offered to pay the vet bill and asked that the state vet be called out for an opinion; both of these options were rejected by the Sheriff. And so, the dog was left in the snow without care.

I returned home and sent pictures to the media and the Humane Society of the United States who immediately stepped in to try and help this dog. On the 5th day, someone who had seen the story on the media, drove from Boise and with the permission of the owner, took Barbie and her puppies to his vet in Ada County. He was later charged with felony grand theft by Olsen and Dunn. Please note, that to this day, the owner, Raul Torres, has not been charged with animal cruelty.

On the 23rd of Nov, I was cited for criminal trespass. Since then Prosecutor Dunn has amended the charges twice and even yesterday, the eve of the trial. Evidently, he couldn’t prove the trespass charge so my charges and dates continue to be “expanded”. Mr. Dunn has been reluctant to be forthcoming with my attorney and the judge to say exactly what I am being charged with…multiple days, sending out agents, etc. He appears to be grasping at straws here.

Also, I find it amusing that Mr. Dunn has delivered to my attorney a stack of my editorials and transcripts of radio interviews I have written and discussed on air dealing with animal and political issues over the years…something I have done my entire life. I am under the impression that my First Amendments rights are still in affect, even though I now live in Jefferson County. Nor did I realize that Mr. Dunn is my most ardent “reader”.

Additionally, Mr. Dunn has gone out of his way to describe me as an “animal rights activists” though a year and a half ago, I explicitly explained to Sheriff Olsen and a half a dozen others in a meeting in Dunn’s office that included a representative of Humane Society of the United States that I am NOT an animal rights’ activist. I am however an animal welfare advocate which is especially needed in Jefferson County as county officials refuse to do their duty as required by law. It now appears that someone who “advocates” enforcement of Idaho law regarding animal welfare is a criminal only in Jefferson County.

On the 29th of January, Mr. Dunn called Tracie Hotchner, host of Dog Talk Radio that has a listening audience in some 15-20 states. Ms. Hotchner has provided notes of her conversation with Dunn and a follow up podcast. During this interview, he called me a “hillbilly” from “Tennessee” (I am originally from Virginia). He admitted that he did not like me and is biased against me. Mrs. Hotchner would be glad to provide a copy of her notes.

Sheriff Olsen has failed to enforce Idaho law that has been explained to him in depth by the The Humane Society of the United State Director of Animal Cruelty, Adam Parascandola, in Washinton, DC. And this is not the first time…in a case about a year and a half ago, half-starved horses, (which I am told belonged to a friend of Olsen’s) were allowed to needlessly suffer. When the state vet saw pictures of these horses, he immediately went to the property and placed the horses under the care of a local vet. No animal cruelty charges were filed against the owner but I was charged with trespass because I drove down a dirt lane with a dead end sign. Pictures indicate a “no trespassing/keep out” sign on a fence post that to a reasonable person would be applicable to the pasture. So, for the first time in my entire life, I have a criminal record…only in Jefferson County would this happen.

It is important to note that several years ago, Sheriff Olsen called me at home and told me four things: he called me a newcomer (I had only lived in Jefferson County since 2001); he told me I was un-welcomed in Jefferson County; he told me that I was to butt out of the animal welfare business; and I was told that I didn’t understand how things were done here in Idaho. I maintain that the concept of humanness is universal to modern society. (Please note that I have lived all over the US and been involved in cruelty cases since I was 15 and have never had a sheriff call my home to try and intimidate me. I told many people about this incident at the time it occurred as a form of “documentation”. My former attorney also knows of this incident.)

Additionally, Sheriff Olsen has made a habit of threatening the media… three occasions now as they have covered stories of animal abuse in the county. (Ch 3 KIDK can verify this information.) My copy of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. Also, Olsen has written an op-ed piece that appeared in the Post Register while this case is ongoing. Is this acceptable behavior from a sheriff?

As a resident of Jefferson County, I am more than weary for having folks telling me that I need to be careful as it is not good to have a sheriff angry with you. I am well aware that I have a target on my back. I am also aware that ID codes are being enforced arbitrarily by this Sheriff and Prosecutor. Judges and attorneys outside of the county have advised that this is not legal BUT that they were not surprised to hear that this occurred in Jefferson County. A handful of residents have contacted me with their own stories of abuse of power. I am sure that some of these scenarios have reached your office before now.

As I have worked with deputies in surrounding countries on animal welfare issues, I am told that not only is the JDSD uncooperative with concerns of animals but in other areas of law enforcement demanding cooperation between counties. This is something that definitely bears looking into by supervising authorities.

A conclusion can be drawn that here in Jefferson County, we have a sheriff and prosecutor who are out of control and abuse their power. This trespass case is receiving the attention (even at the national level) that one would think would be more deserving of a capital murder case. (31 people subpoenaed) And from reading an article in the newspaper, Jefferson County is the only county in Idaho who refuses to participate in a form of an “insurance pool” to help offset costs should indeed our county have a significant case. This in itself shows unwise leadership and with this current leadership, Jefferson County officials should look into purchasing an “umbrella” policy. Do our Jefferson County officials know better than every other county in this state? I think not.

As a resident and taxpayer of the county, I expect a full accounting of the time and resources that have been devoted to this case to be made available for public scrutiny upon completion of this mockery of our justice system. AND still, no charges have been filed against the owner of the poor animal that suffered immensely.

If this letter does not suffice, please advise me of the formal process for filing a complaint against Sheriff Olsen and Prosecutor Robin Dunn.

Thank you.

Andi Elliott
Jefferson County, ID 83425

BTW, The Humane Society of the United States has twice now in the last year and a half offered to provide free training for the JCSD and each time, the offer has been rejected. An offer of free training in enforcing Idaho Codes is rejected??? What could possibly be a reasonable explanation for this?

Andi Elliott
Patriotic Resistance Idaho State Coordinator
Tea Party Patriots Idaho State Coordinator
Idaho District 2 Coordinator Anystreet.Org
Member of the American Grand Jury

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Property Rights | 1 Comment »

National Health Care? We’ve Had this Discussion Before!

February 25th, 2010 by Halli

During Wednesday’s Halli & Friends radio program, guest Steve Adams compared the debate over national health care to the mid 1800’s debate over government education. You’ll be amazed at the similarities as you listen to the entire discussion of educational philosophy. Steve cast a whole new light on today’s hottest political topic.

Wednesday’s program can be heard on demand using the player on this page, or you may go to BlogTalkRadio.com/IdahoTalk.

Listen to Halli & Friends live each weekday from 1-2pm at BlogTalkRadio.com/IdahoTalk

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

David Ripley: Senate State Affairs Approves Conscience Bill

February 25th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Senate State Affairs committee voted 6-3 to send SB1353 to the Senate floor with a recommendation that it be approved by the full Senate.

The legislation will create statutory protections for health care professionals in specific areas of medical practice – including the dispensing of abortifacients and in end-of-life situations.

Opposition to the bill came largely from the Abortion Lobby because of their fears that it will create impediments to easy distribution of so-called “Emergency Contraception”. Much of the morning debate was taken up with a debate of how the drug works.

Oddly enough, the debate was settled by the closing testimony of retired abortionist Duane St. Clair, who acknowledged that “Emergency Contraception” can sometimes cause the destruction of an embryo by making the uterine wall inhospitable to the new human life.

Important supporting testimony was provided by Idaho Right to Life and the Catholic Diocese of Boise.

Dr. Will Rainford, representing Bishop Driscoll, emphasized the spiritual gravity of forcing Christian medical personnel to participate in medical procedures they know to be wrong.

Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Eagle) is the lead Senate sponsor of the measure.

The measure was passed with six Republican votes: Chairman Curt McKenzie, Pro Tem Geddes, Sens. Bart Davis, Russ Fulcher, Monty Pearce and Denton Darrington supported the measure. Sen. Joe Stegner (R-Lewiston) joined Democrats Kelly and Stennett in opposing the bill.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights February 22, 2010

February 24th, 2010 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the young, but as I looked over the large group of 4-H youth at the annual Know Your Government breakfast I’m not sure his thesis is valid. These kids, especially those from our area, are sharp, eager to learn and determined to achieve. Mr. Shaw must not have known many young people like these.

I receive a little magazine from John Deere called The Furrow. There are some really interesting articles and each issue contains what they call Fun & Philosophy. One little item this issue is from Winston Churchill, “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. It you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”

Our first big debate of the session took place this week over whether or not to allow the Cost of Living Allowance granted by the board governing the state retirement fund to take affect. These are tough times and I don’t know many folks that couldn’t use a little more money. The debate, after clearing all of the emotional issues aside, centers around one simple fact. The gap between what is earned and contributed and what is being paid in benefits is widening. This is known as the unfunded liability. Even though there is a healthy balance on hand, we are headed for a wreck if each year more is paid out than is coming in. As unpleasant as it may be, meeting the danger of putting the fund in jeopardy promptly will ultimately reduce the danger and insure the soundness of the fund.

The pace has also picked up in most committees, with longer meetings and more legislation being deliberated. Two proposed constitutional amendments have cleared State Affairs and will be debated by the full House early this next week. There is one yet to come for the cities that have power generating facilities so that they can enter into long term power purchasing agreements.

Also in The Furrow this time is an article about precision farming. Imagine that, precision in farming. Coupled with the article is an ad with a picture of the cab of a brand new tractor with two electronic monitors, one to watch multiple tractor functions and the other to run the GPS guidance system. It’s not as crazy as it sounds because putting seed, chemicals and fertilizers at precise spacing actually saves, big time. I couldn’t help but think of our budgets this year and how they are going to need more precision than ever before, watching every penny. And as odd as it may seem, that precision is going to have to take place in the field more than around these halls. We’ll just provide the incentives and the flexibility.

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

Richard Larsen: Political Speech No Longer Limited

February 22nd, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

When our nations’ founders drafted the Bill of Rights, comprising the first ten amendments to the Constitution, they spelled out rights that are to be extended to all citizens. Not just those who are privileged, or those who have money, or even those who don’t have money. Not just those who belong to select organizations or groups, but to all citizens. Consequently, when they penned “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” those were rights to be universally enjoyed and protected.

Contrary to the assertions by recent Journal columnists, one a retired physician and the other a government professor at ISU, the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign finance reform was a resurrection and reaffirmation of freedom of speech for all citizens whether they work for a labor union or a corporation. Their homilies predictably denounced the decision, based not on constitutional grounds, but on ideological grounds.

They’re not alone, for even the President in his State of the Union address, lamented the decision, and even he resorted to inaccuracy and misrepresentation to do so. He said, “‘Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the flood gates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.” The case had nothing to do with foreign corporations’ participation in our electoral process, and the Supreme Court ruling did nothing to undo Federal Election Commission restrictions on them. No wonder Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rolled his eyes and shook his head when Obama said that. He, like the rest of us who knew what the ruling did and didn’t do, was undoubtedly thinking, “And this guy used to teach constitutional law?” Obama was either displaying his ignorance or he was lying. You can take your pick. If George W. Bush had said something that egregiously incorrect, the press would still be buzzing about it. To be precise, foreign corporations were prohibited from participating in U.S. elections before the Citizens United decisions and they still are.

What the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling actually determined was that corporations and non-profit organizations may spend general funds on election-related activity. The ruling means that they no longer have to set up political action committees in order to have a voice in campaigns. They can pay for their own ads, but they still cannot contribute directly to candidates’ campaigns. The ban on such contributions by corporations, originally enacted in 1907 as the Tillman Act, remains untouched.

The ruling slightly negates the advantage held by main-stream media, which can, and do, attempt to influence elections by their stories about campaigns and candidates, by allowing others to counter their assertions. The media have had a monopoly on editorial exegesis couched in the context of “reporting,” but other corporations and nonprofits now will have a voice. Corporations will also be able to speak during the electioneering cycle on a par with unions, who have been virtually unfettered in their support of candidates and causes.

Richard Viguerie, who created direct mail solicitation empowering conservative causes, said of the ruling, that it “ means that the anti-incumbent furor that has been growing is partly released from the shackles created by ‘incumbent protection’ election and campaign finance laws. The dirty little secret about all campaign finance laws passed by Congress since 1972 is that they were designed to protect incumbents by stifling competition. This ruling is especially important for advocacy causes and organizations, which may now more freely express opinions about incumbents.”

This case was based on whether the government could ban a movie about Hillary Clinton before the primary elections of 2008. And what lost the case for Obama’s attorneys was asserting that the government could even ban the publishing of books, even electronic books, if they mentioned a candidate within the election timeframe. All Americans should understand the unconstitutionality of controlling and curtailing free speech by the government in this fashion. Understandably, those justices committed to freedom of speech rights came unglued at the notion that the government could exercise such egregious stifling of free speech rights.

Free speech is fundamental to the construct of the American republic. It should not be favorably protected by the government for mainstream media and labor unions to the exclusion of other individuals, corporations, or nonprofit entities. In short, leveling the playing field with media and labor unions is a reaffirmation of free speech, not a diminution of it. How encouraging that we have at least five justices on the Supreme Court who understand this critical principle.

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

Tuesday’s Halli & Friends at 2pm

February 22nd, 2010 by Halli

Just a programming note: Tuesday’s Halli & Friends program will be from 2-3pm for that day only. All other episodes air live from 1-2pm.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

February 18 “Halli & Friends” Show a Must-Hear!

February 19th, 2010 by Halli

If you missed the live show, be sure to hear Thursday’s Halli & Friends on demand with the player on this page.

The first guest was Ilo Jones, executive director of the Fully Informed Jury Association. Ilo adeptly described the constitutional basis for the trial by jury and explored the duties and experiences of a juror. This interview should be required listening for anyone who is called to jury duty.

Senator Russ Fulcher, Idaho Senate Majority Caucus Chair, joined Halli for the second half of the program to report on the week in the Idaho Legislature and to give predictions for the coming weeks. Topics ranged from the Conscience Protection bill, to taxes and the budget. Senator Fulcher is a true champion of conservative values in the legislature.

ALL episodes of Halli and Friends are important, but this day the information was exceptional!

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

David Ripley: Senate Panel Approves Health Freedom Act

February 18th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to approve HB391, the Health Freedom Act on a vote of 6-3.

Sen. Joe Stegner (R-Lewiston) was the only Republican on the panel to vote against the measure which seeks to lay a defense for Idahoans, based upon the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, against a likely federal take-over of the health care industry.

While some in media have predicted that ObamaCare is dead, it is clear that Speaker Pelosi is hard at work trying to convince members of her caucus – as well as Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid – that her party should take the plunge and abuse the budget reconciliation process to secure nationalized health care.

Idaho Democrats in the Legislature continue to defend ObamaCare, with Senate Democrat Leader Kate Kelly opposing the Idaho Health Freedom Act, sponsored by Reps. Clark, Luker and Labrador.

The Health Freedom Act now awaits action by the full Senate.

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

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