By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone
I’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe the 2011 session of the legislature. I have decided to leave the discussion of how well we did to others, and I know you will be hearing plenty of negative comments and self praise from those directly involved. I’ll try to stay away from that.
It was the most difficult session of all the time I have observed there. To say that there was a lot that went on behind the scenes would be an understatement. It’s hard to describe the new process of legislating in Idaho. Part of that has come because of the culture change that has occurred because of the renovating of the capital. We used to run across each other quite frequently and now in order to talk to someone you have to search hard to find them. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad but I can tell you that it has changed the way we deal with each other and how we talk about the issues.
We passed a lot of legislation, some good and some not so good. The variety of topics is the largest I remember and those matters were more difficult to deal with than ever before. The numbers of people coming to the capital was remarkable. It seemed more like a pressure cooker at times than an honest discussion of the issues. It was a time of attempted political maneuvering coupled with parliamentary wrangling. The last two weeks of any session are tense but these last two weeks are sure to go down as a record for rancor. Most of the time we are able to overcome some of the problems in the place with a little bit of humor, in an effort to not take ourselves quite so seriously. During the final meeting in State Affairs the other day in an effort to lighten the mood a bit I made a comment that didn’t receive even a smile from anyone in attendance. Smiles were hard to come by at the end of this session.
You may ask, what took so much time? Here’s a short list of the things we talked about: Primary election law, video services act, horseracing, conscience law, fetal pain, concealed weapons, nullification of national health care, legislative legal services, wind moratorium, wind siting, just to name a few. And that’s just a partial list of the matters we dealt with in the State Affairs Committee in the House.
Then there was Health and Welfare with the most prominent topic there being Medicaid reworking and how services will be delivered in the future. Also in Health and Welfare a two-day discussion took place on medical marijuana. Then, there was education with a multitude of bills, the effect of which will not be known for quite some time. I don’t want to leave out all of the talk surrounding a potential cigarette tax increase, wind turbine sales tax rebate, or the taxing of Internet sales.
Now that it’s over my Duramax will get a little rest, with emphasis on little. Sitting on the house floor the last day of the session I composed this little ditty as a very brief synopsis of the session.
As Sessions Come, Sessions Go
We came to the capital with a flurry of snow
With hopes that debate would warm winter air.
Though the heat came about as the winds of time blow,
In spite of Spring coming the weather’s not fair.
So now the time comes for the process to end
And we get back to things of tractor, rake and a hoe.
The weather outside has not made much of a bend
And it looks like we’ll get home with a flurry of snow.
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