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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights – March 21

March 21st, 2011 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I decided that it was time to get another haircut. As luck would have it the same person that cut my hair the last time was there again that evening. She remembered me from my previous visit and said that since that time she had decided to get a little bit more involved in what is going on in the legislature. She was a good sport about my having told her comments to my colleagues and had written about them in a previous article. She told me that she’d become more aware of what was going on with the education bills and what her friends had been telling her about the issue. Then she told me that she had encouraged her sister to get involved in politics. I asked her why that was. She said, “I told my sister that she would be perfect for politics because she liked to be the boss of everyone and she thinks she knows what is best for everybody.” I guess that pretty well describes what a lot of people think about politicians. When I told this little item to several other legislators they merely laughed and said, “Yeah, that pretty well fits.”

The revised Medicaid bill came before Health and Welfare and most of the concerned parties are more comfortable with the changes that are being made. That bill went before the house later in the week and passed pretty handily. The passage of the legislation clears the way for the Department of Health and Welfare budget to proceed. This is the first time I can remember that policy for the dispersal of money for these programs has come from a germane committee. Most of years, in the recent past at least, those policies have been spelled out as intent language in the appropriations bills.

It’s interesting to see that so many difficult issues have accumulated themselves into one session of the legislature. Wind energy has been a topic that has been discussed at length throughout the last week. There are a lot of unknowns at this point and many are desiring to have a timeout and study what the overall effects of wind will be on power rates among other things. During all of the discussion with Rocky Mountain power and the Public Utilities Commission, we have learned that one of the major factors in the granting of a rate increase came from the incorporation of wind energy onto their system.

Legislation has been introduced and we are currently hearing a bill that will provide for a moratorium on new wind projects for two years so that our interim energy committee can look into how it affects Idaho ratepayers and our citizens around whom these projects are being located. There’s a lot of resistance to having a moratorium but in this case I think it is warranted to have an in-depth look at how wind energy affects Idaho.

Two of the education bills have been signed into law and it will be interesting to see what the long-term effects of that legislation will be. Very few of us in the house have had much of an opportunity to look at what is contained in the third education bill that was crafted in a Senate committee during this last week. I’m sure there will be lengthy hearings on this bill as there were on the previous two.

During our early Monday morning meeting of the house state affairs committee I noticed that the wife of one of the members had dozed off in the back of the room. I made a comment to my colleague and tried to tease him about keeping his wife up too late at night. He and his wife told me the story later. They arrived in Boise late Sunday evening and before retiring, while his wife was in another room, he set the clock forward an hour. When she came back he left the room for a few minutes and not knowing that he had already set the clock, set the clock forward another hour. That made for a very short night’s sleep. Daylight savings time strikes again.

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