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David Ripley: House Committee Kills Insurance Trust Bill

February 28th, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The insurance industry brought forth HB423 with an eye toward creating an even more monopolistic business environment than they already enjoy. Fortunately for Idaho small businesses and struggling families, a majority of Republicans on the House Business Committee killed the legislation.

Under the legislation, the Department of Insurance would be given even greater powers to regulate the rates charged by companies offering health insurance in the state. Specifically, Bill Deal would be able to outlaw plans in the state that he deemed to be too costly or too cheap. It was this latter provision which really caught our attention: HB423 defined “inadequate” rates as those which might “disrupt the insurance marketplace”.

Let’s translate: As we read the legislation, if a company came into Idaho and tried to undercut the giants like Blue Cross – the Department of Insurance could force the competitor to raise their premiums so that Blue Cross would not be unduly discomfited by the competition.

What?! As one businessman testified during the hearing – we should all be praying for a little disruption in a marketplace which sees regular double-digit increases in premiums.

Despite the fact that the legislation would lead to increased regulation of the private sector, and despite the fact that it would also implement part of the ObamaCare regulations – the only 3 insurance companies allowed to sell health care insurance all showed up to bless the bill: Blue Cross, Regence Blue Shield and Pacific Source. But, then, why wouldn’t they? It pretty much locks up their monopoly in Idaho.

The motion to pass the bill came from Democrat John Rusche. Not only is he a doctor, he is involved in the insurance industry. (During the brief discussion of his motion, Rusche actually argued that the bill would help Idaho defend itself against the federal government’s intrusion into health care – despite the fact that he is an ardent defender of ObamaCare).

No surprise that Rusche was joined by the other Democrats present in supporting more government.

More disturbingly, his motion to support the Insurance Trust was backed by Republicans Jeff Thompson, Carlos Bilbao and Marge Chadderdon.
Reps. Vito Barbieri and Cliff Bayer led the defense of Idaho’s small businesses and consumers. They were joined by Reps. Brent Crane, Frank Henderson, Joe Palmer, Reed DeMordaunt, Jim Guthrie, Jim Patrick and Gayle Batt.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, February 27

February 27th, 2012 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Now that the calving season has started at home, when I get home on the weekend I make a number of the night runs to check the cattle so that everyone else can get some rest. It gives me a little time to think about the happenings of the week and to get a little “ironed out” for the week to come. It can be a great stress reliever and besides there is the side benefit of witnessing some of life’s little miracles.

We covered a lot of ground this last week and some of the budgets have been appearing on our third reading calendar. Most of them so far have dealt with supplementals, which are those that have been made necessary because of unforeseen changes since the budget was set last year. The big three namely corrections, health and welfare, and education still are all ahead of us. The biggest budget discussions this week were centered around how to treat the state employee and teacher raises. The majority of the mail generated to my inbox had to do with these matters. The question is how to treat merit pay and who decides what constitutes a merit increase, or to give across the board raises. In the end the across the board version appears to be what will happen with some discretion for merit.

No camping on the Capital Mall (aka de-occupy) passed both chambers and was signed by the governor. Those folks with tents pitched on the site have vowed to cause a ruckus this next week when their equipment is removed, saying that this is by no means over. My hope is that it won’t turn ugly. As my mother used to say, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and take what comes.”

Other topics generating some heat this week were, the Affordable Healthcare Act requirement for payment of contraceptives, restoring funding for mental health and the disabled, animal cruelty felony provisions, what to do with wolves, wind turbine moratorium provisions, and the disabling of parking meters around the Capital during the legislative session. I’ll bet you can guess which one generated the most heat.
Ada County Republicans held their annual Lincoln Day Banquet on Thursday evening. These events are well attended and it provides a chance for elected officials at all levels to visit with constituents. I was able to sit with our State Senator Tippets, and with Mayor Roy Bunderson from Bloomington. I really enjoyed the conversation around the table. The speaker was particularly good, a Professor Yenor from Boise State.

He gave a “lecture” on Lincoln that was the best I have ever heard. He told us that if we are to call ourselves the party of Lincoln, we need to look back to what Abraham Lincoln really believed. Everything these days seems to finally come around to a discussion about how we are going to save our nation. In a very forceful way, after presenting evidence of how the destruction of the family has come about, he told us that if America is to be saved, it will only be done by saving the family. I could not agree more.

At another event I was sitting with some young farmers from around the state. It had been a long and tiring day. There was a lull in the conversation and I was able to listen to a lady that was playing the piano as background music. She was playing a familiar piece and it suddenly had a very soothing effect on me. To have a chance to relax once in a while is very therapeutic and recharges the batteries.

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

Richard Larsen: Corruption and Failure of Crony Capitalism

February 22nd, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Since the 2008 financial market collapse, nearly every major newspaper and media outlet has featured stories on the demise or failure of capitalism. What they have mostly focused on is the failure of the largest financial institutions in managing risk, and the impact on the rest of us. But what they have mostly failed to do is mark the distinction between capitalism and crony capitalism. If they delved further into the failures of 2008, they would have been proclaiming the failure of crony capitalism.

We’ve seen over the past few years an even greater immersion into crony capitalism that further obscures the risks assumed by the major players in the private sector, poses even greater threats to the economy and our livelihoods, and further inserts government into control and manipulation of the very bedrock of our financial system, energy production, and corporate environment.

Although some amongst us are critical of capitalism, all of us participate in it, benefit from it, and fundamentally believe in it. At its most rudimentary level, capitalism is what we engage in every day. Investopedia defines capitalism as “An economic system based on a free market, open competition, profit motive and private ownership of the means of production.”

Everything we buy, every transaction we conduct, every financial plan we embark on, is based on our ownership of what we buy, build, produce, or service, and our freedom in making choices about price, service, and loyalty. If we want to make a purchase, we shop around for the best prices. Those companies that price comparable products or services too high will likely be passed over in favor of those who are more competitively priced. Those companies that fail to adapt to market forces, fail, and go out of business. The market has worked. Capitalism has worked. Capitalism does work.

Crony capitalism, however, is completely different. It is a perversion and a corruption of pure capitalism. Also referred to as corporatism, or statism, crony capitalism features corporate welfare as one of its most significant characteristics. Mussolini understood all too well this cozy relationship between government and business, for he once said, ?”Fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it’s the merger of corporate & government power.”

Investopedia defines it as, “being based on the close relationships between businessmen and the state. Instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government in the form of tax breaks, government grants and other incentives.”

In other words, under crony capitalism, politicians in government determine winners and losers in the corporate world, not market forces. They determine which companies survive and flourish, and which fail.

This is the nature of the relationship in crony capitalism. Government officials express a desire to expand under the auspices of creating new laws, business incentives, and regulation. Corporations, through their lobbyists or CEOs who have been in government, influence the drafting of legislation to their benefit, gaining favorable tax treatment of their operations, regulation that favors their business model, and other business incentives. For this favorable treatment, corporations reward politicians by giving money to their campaigns and family members. Politicians benefit from the campaign donations, and push legislation and regulation that benefits their largest donors.

Financial reporter Christopher Powers aptly said of it, “It has become more and more apparent to seemingly everyone of late, that the American economic system is not based on capitalism, but a twisted hierarchical system of special interests and government favors commonly known as ‘crony capitalism.’??The distinction is very important, because crony capitalism in America – especially during the last century – created a toxic environment that has only recently spilled over into the mainstream understanding of the economy, but has long been under the surface, guiding the tides of public policy.”

Bill Frezza, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute has written, “Would a farmer who put out a trough of slop be surprised if it attracted a bunch of pigs? Yet activists who promote enlarging the size and scope of government always seem to be shocked when one program after another is hijacked by corporations that find it easier to seek favors in Washington than customers in the marketplace. And, despite knowing that such corruption is inevitable, mainstream media consistently dismiss those who advocate curtailing government powers as corporate stooges.”

Economics professor Donald Boudreaux, described the problem this way, ?”When government gives up its role as referee in favor of a reciprocal relationship with those it regulates that also benefits those who run government, you have cronyism. Crony capitalism has as much to do with real capitalism as praying mantises have to do with real prayer.”

In a truly capitalist system, bad banks and financial institutions, and automakers weighed down by massive “legacy” costs would have been allowed to fail in 2008 and 2009. Their profitable and viable operations would’ve been bought by more efficient competitors. Shareholders, bondholders and some depositors would have lost some money, but taxpayers would not have been put on the hook for a dime.

?

David Stockman, former White House Budget Director, in a revelatory interview with Bill Moyers, said just last month, “Crony capitalism is about the aggressive and proactive use of political resources, lobbying, campaign contributions, influence-peddling of one type or another to gain something from the governmental process that wouldn’t otherwise be achievable in the market. And as the time has progressed over the last two or three decades, I think it’s gotten much worse. Money dominates politics. And as a result, we have neither capitalism or democracy. We have some kind of crony capitalism, which is the worst.”

Economist Walter Williams recently wrote, “Free market capitalism is unforgiving. Producers please customers, in a cost-minimizing fashion, and make a profit, or they face losses or go bankrupt. It’s this market discipline that some businesses seek to avoid. That’s why they descend upon Washington calling for crony capitalism – government bailouts, subsidies and special privileges.”

But as we’ve seen, in a crony capitalist system, such failures are given preferential treatment, if they have the right political connections. Economist Richard Salsman ?said recently, “Capitalism has been blamed for the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and for the financial crisis and bailouts of 2008, but it’s not ‘capitalism’ but the mixed economy and corporatism-cronyism that did it.”

The mortgage market meltdown illustrated how convoluted and corrupt crony capitalism is in the mortgage industry. Economist George Stigler, a Nobel laureate for his research into the causes and effects of public regulation conducted an exhaustive study characterizing the corrupt relationship between financial institutions, the Government Service Enterprises (GSEs, including Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae) and politicians. The abstract of his research states,

“How special interests, measured by campaign contributions from the mortgage industry, and constituent interests, measured by the share of subprime borrowers in a congressional district, influenced U.S. government policy toward the housing sector during the subprime mortgage credit expansion from 2002 to 2007.”

It continues, “Beginning in 2002, mortgage industry campaign contributions increasingly targeted U.S. representatives from districts with a large fraction of subprime borrowers. During the expansion years, mortgage industry campaign contributions and the share of subprime borrowers in a congressional district increasingly predicted congressional voting behavior on housing related legislation. The evidence suggests that both subprime mortgage lenders and subprime mortgage borrowers influenced government policy toward housing finance during the subprime mortgage credit expansion.”

Russell Roberts, a Distinguished Scholar and professor of Economics at George Mason University, scholarly breaks down this unhealthy relationship further, stating that “public-policy decisions have perverted the incentives that naturally create stability in financial markets and the market for housing. Over the last three decades, government policy has coddled creditors, reducing the risk they face from financing bad investments. Not surprisingly, this encouraged risky investments financed by borrowed money. The increasing use of debt mixed with housing policy, monetary policy, and tax policy crippled the housing market and the financial sector. Wall Street is not blameless in this debacle. It lobbied for the policy decisions that created the mess.”

This entanglement between Wall Street institutions, the GSEs, and politicians gets even more convoluted when you research on your own the role played in the mortgage collapse of people like Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson, Tim Howard, Timothy Geithner, Hank Paulson, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank.

It’s crony capitalism that allows companies like General Electric, which had profits of $14 billion in 2010, to pay no corporate income taxes on a tax return that was 57,000 pages long. Tax deductions, tax credits, loopholes, “stimulus” funding, all speak volumes of the benefits of CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s cozy relationship with Washington, and how the largest corporations can “play the system” for increased profits.

The “green energy” movement is the fastest growing crony capitalism sector, receiving preferential tax treatment for deductions, government loans, and “stimulus” funding in the form of grants. Their capital outlays for lobbying have increased twelve fold over 2008 levels and the number of lobbyists for “green energy” companies and associations have increased 10 fold, according to OpenSecrets.org.

An entire library would likely be needed to document all the cases of abuse and crony capitalism in “green energy,” but the collusion between green energy companies and the government is absolutely shocking. The now bankrupt Solyndra debacle involving a government stimulus loan for half-a-billion dollars is just the tip of the iceberg. American Thinker goes so far as saying “green jobs are a euphemism for crony capitalism.”

According to Peter Schweizer, a research fellow at Stanford University, “an examination of grants and guaranteed loans offered by just one stimulus program run by the Department of Energy, for alternative-energy projects, is stunning. The so-called 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program channeled billions of dollars to all sorts of energy companies. The grants were earmarked for alternative-fuel and green-power projects…”

He continued, “a large proportion of the winners were companies with Obama-campaign connections. Indeed, at least 10 members of Obama’s finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting your money. At the same time, several politicians who supported Obama managed to strike gold by launching alternative-energy companies and obtaining grants. How much did they get? According to the Department of Energy’s own numbers … a lot. In the 1705 government-backed-loan program, for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.”

It doesn’t seem to make much difference which political party is in control in Washington, for crony capitalism has thrived, as David Stockman said, for the past thirty years openly, and “under the public radar” for the past century. The problem has been significantly exacerbated over the past few years, as political favoritism toward specific industries and companies has accelerated the tax breaks, tax free loans, and outright government grants to corporate favorites as anointed by Washington.

The costs are massive, and impossible to get a complete grasp on. The Fiscal Times has quantified the cost of just the top 10 tax breaks to corporations at nearly $500 billion. The New York Times reports that subsidies in one corporate sector has tripled in the past few years, leading to a “gold rush mentality” in that sector. When all the tax breaks, incentives, subsidies, grants, and loans are totaled, the figure could well exceed $1 trillion. And government costs that currently administer all those programs could be in the hundreds of billions.

The solutions are not easy, but must be addressed. We need honest people who can’t be “bought off” in Washington, and term limits for congressmen and senators would help keep them that way. The influence peddling and free money exchange between major industries and Washington has to end, which could include a lower cap on campaign contributions by corporations and individuals. A flat tax on corporations would help to eliminate the cronyism in our tax code.

If “fairness” is truly one of our core American values, as the president said in his State of the Union Address, expunging the crony capitalism that has infested Washington is a great place to start.

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

David Ripley: ICL Endorses Santorum for President

February 22nd, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Idaho Chooses Life announced today that it was urging pro-Life Idahoans to support Rick Santorum in the March 6th GOP Presidential Caucuses.
“The Board of Idaho Chooses Life has voted to support Rick Santorum,” said David Ripley, Executive Director, in a prepared press statement, “based upon his viability, his stellar record and his unquestionable passion for defending the sanctity of human life.”

“We have watched with increasing revulsion as President Obama leads an unprecedented assault on Life and Liberty,” Ripley continued. “The hour demands a leader with a deep understanding of the threat posed by government-run health care. As Rick Santorum has argued, ‘ObamaCare will crush economic freedom, will make people dependent upon government for the most important thing: their very lives’.”

ICL noted that Santorum has been in the forefront of the national pro-Life movement for many years. He was a principal sponsor of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act as a member of the U.S. Senate. But Santorum has not just fought against Roe v. Wade – he has worked to provide women and girls in difficult situations with real world help. In 1999 he sponsored the Women and Children’s Resources Act to help women access health care, housing and educational services.

Santorum’s fundamental grasp of the core issues at stake in the pro-Life battle is further demonstrated by his sponsorship of the Assisted Suicide Prevention Act and the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act. This latter bill would have directed resources toward medical research on stem cells derived from ethical sources.

“Idaho pro-Lifers have an historic opportunity to impact the national race for president,” Ripley concluded. “We urge our supporters to get involved and make a difference on March 6th.”

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, February 20

February 20th, 2012 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

We have a page program in the legislature that gives high school seniors the opportunity to come and work in the legislature. These young people are the crème on the crop as students go and they come for a six week period to help. They must have permission from their teachers and principals, and are able to be away for that period of time, and they must keep up on their studies in addition to their page duties.

At this time of the session it is time for the first half of the session group to head back to school. The tradition around here is for them to put on a program which usually is a reflection of what they have learned while they are here. In that short of a time they get to know us pretty well and they have a great time making fun of our little idiosyncrasies. It is clear that they really are paying attention to what goes on and they are not bashful about making us laugh at ourselves.

Our schedule has picked up and we have a lot on our plate. The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee has finished its hearings and will now start setting budgets. Most of us have seen the “big picture” overview of where they may be going given the revenue projection and the requests from the Governor and the agencies. The target number for the budget is about a 7.8 percent increase in expenditures over last year, but the revenue projection is for about a 4.5 percent increase over last year.

I realize that some of that is due to the meager amount that seems to be coming in over what we had projected last year but does not explain away all of the increase. Somewhere in the back of my mind is the memory of just ten years ago when the legislature spent twice the increase and how that led to a disaster in budgeting the following year. I for one do not want to see a repeat of that incident.

More and more stuff is making it through the committees to the floor for debate. One bill on early childhood education was presented to the body and after a few questions but no debate, it failed to pass the House. We don’t see that happen very often. Most of the time when a bill fails it is after a very rigorous debate, with passionate debate on both sides of the issue.

A former legislator who now lives in Boise County and is now one of the commissioners there, has been around the halls of the Capital quite a bit the last two weeks. He and I used to have quite the debates, both on and off the floor of the House. More often than not our disagreements were pretty sharp but over the years we have maintained a mutual respect for each other. We would “duke it out” during debate and then late into the evenings as we sat around our desks, we would discuss and re-discuss in an effort to persuade the other. We still probably don’t agree a lot, but in spite of our differences in philosophy, it was good to see him and talk about some of the funnier things that have happened in the past. One thing we agree on after these intervening years is that having differences on the issues is OK, but having rancor should not be part of the process or of life in general.

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

David Ripley: Santorum Comes to Idaho

February 15th, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

My son and I ventured out to hear GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum in Boise. It was an encouraging and historic event. Perhaps 2500 Idahoans came out on a chilly evening to learn more about the man most likely to challenge Mitt Romney for the nomination.
First, we must give kudos to Jonathan Parker and Norm Semanko of the Idaho GOP for engineering an historic moment. Not many candidates have found the will or interest to travel out here to meet real folks and talk about their vision for America. Idaho’s March 6th Caucus date is meaningful and the presence of Rick Santorum proves it. Santorum’s retail campaign effort has even forced Mitt Romney to hold his first public event when he comes to Boise on Friday to once again raise money.

Santorum is a rock solid conservative, but he is no rock star. The folks in attendance were hungry for the kind of battle cry that Newt Gingrich can dish up; Santorum seems almost shy about folks getting too worked up. A few times the crowd was on the verge of a standing ovation, but Santorum interrupted to continue with his lecture about the numerous threats posed by the continued reign of Barack Obama.

The presidential hopeful comes with a modest staff and a U.S. Constitution in his back pocket. He produced it to expound on the need for the next president to be steeped in its powers and limitations. He called upon the nation to restore the nation’s founding vision, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. Santorum recalled the courageous decision by the Founders to pledge their sacred honor at a time when they challenged the most powerful nation on earth: He demanded that those listening answer the call to service posed by these critical days.

No doubt that those in attendance were ready to answer that call. And there is the encouraging part of the evening: Ordinary citizens gathered in different parts of Capital High School to fight for their country at a time when she is in serious danger. Many, like me, brought their children. (Not only because of the historic opportunity to participate in history, but because these young people are the ones who will inherit the fruits of our present labor – or suffer most harshly the consequences of our failure).

No doubt these people will be present on March 6th. My guess is that most will be voting for Rick Santorum.

While Santorum does not have Gingrich’s gift for the spontaneous battle cry, he does have a certain charisma. It is the kind of charm, alloyed with a few parts humility, that could wear well in the months and years ahead. That humility was best displayed by his insistence upon coming to the gym, used as an overflow room, to take a few questions and shake hands all the way around the floor.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Dinner with Senator Jeff Siddoway

February 14th, 2012 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

Tonight we had dinner with Senator and Mrs. Jeff Siddoway to discuss the senator’s remarks regarding wolf control which has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. I myself was appalled at the news report depicting the use of “live bait” which is why I contacted the Senator. I attempted to be civil but am sure that my anger came through in my email. So tonight, I found myself talking with a man who is a 4th generation sheep rancher and who has watched his sheep and his guard dogs slaughtered by wolves year after year. Just last week, 30 of his ewes were killed. Imagine the feeling of helplessness and frustration. Yes, the government reimburses ranchers for livestock lost to these predators but of course, the rancher comes out on the short end. Imagine having 40 of your 200 rams in a pen wantonly killed and then having to find replacement animals and the expense incurred in doing so.

The family has experienced ever extending government oversight of ranching to the point that they could be watching the wolves attack their sheep and not be able to defend them because of regulations. In one instance related to me tonight, the senator called three government agencies trying to get permission to shoot wolves that were at that very moment menacing his sheep. By the time approval was given, the pack had left.
They’ve lost a total of 18 guard dogs…Great Pyrenees. The herding dogs (Border Collies/Heelers) are too afraid to even attempt to stay with the flocks. The wolves will kill the young guard dogs by simply crushing their faces. The adult Pyrenees weighing easily 80-120# are no match for the wolves. Mercifully, I haven’t personally seen dozens of sheep ripped to pieces and the dogs mutilated as they tried to protect their sheep. It would break my heart to see so much suffering.

After the introduction of the wolves in the Rocky Mountains, there was no problem for a few years until the wolves began multiplying and forming packs. The regulatory agencies know each pack and their offspring. Colored collars designate the different groups. The wolves are well monitored and I’m amazed how much is known about the individual wolves. My research indicates that contrary to public opinion, these wolves are not indigenous to Idaho but are the results of programs initiated by folks who know little of the reality of the situation. Millions of dollars are dedicated for this purpose.

I have spent some time on the net looking at effective methods of controlling wolves…trying to put myself in the place of a sheep rancher…and I have concluded that none of the “humane methods” were adequate for protecting the livestock and the dogs. And when the wolves attack at night, the sheepherders can hear the wolves and listen to the dogs barking and fighting and the sounds of terrified sheep…but in the dark, they are helpless in protecting their animals. They are not permitted to use adequate lighting or rifles equipped with night vision scopes. The odds are slanted against the ranchers and their sheep and the dogs.

During the dinner, I asked about his “live bait” comment. His response, I could tell, was from the heart. Yes, better wording could have been used; further explanation of his plan would have helped those of us focused only on the “live bait” comment to understand what ranchers are facing. There was no intent on sacrificing “the bait”. The animals would be used to hopefully lure the wolves within range to be shot or trapped…which still gives me a queasy feeling but I am at a loss to suggest a better solution. After hearing firsthand from the Siddoways of their experiences in simply trying to keep their animals safe and the limitations within which they have to work, I must offer an apology to them. They are trying to abide by guidelines established by an over-reaching federal government and have been placed at a terrible disadvantage. I wish that all could have heard what I heard tonight. Hopefully, my comments here will add some perspective to what ranchers are facing. I hate to see the suffering but I have nothing better to offer.

Andi Elliott

Tea Party Patriots Idaho State Co-Coordinator
President of For the Love of Pets Foundation

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, February 13

February 13th, 2012 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

During the legislative session each year there are several organizations that have their meetings in Boise which affords their members a chance to meet and chat with legislators. This week The Farm Bureau had their meetings as did the Idaho Association of Counties. I like these two events because I get a chance to talk to folks from home and hear what is on their minds.

Farm Bureau, of course, has as their focus the needs of rural Idaho and arguably our district is one of the most rural of the state. One of the big issues that was brought up is the Senate bill that would elevate cruelty to animals to a felony. During those discussions it became clear that there is a difference of opinion on the bill even amongst the members. Before this comes before the House, I will be reading the legislation carefully to determine if this is a good idea or not. A couple of years ago when this came up, I was having a conversation in which the person accused all farmers and ranchers of being cruel to their animals. My response was that if farmers abuse their animals, their animals will abuse them back, will not perform well and they are soon out of business.

The counties spent most of the week in Boise for what they call their mid-winter conference. For the most part they are not too visible and we don’t get much of a chance to visit with our local officials. There were a couple of things that stood out this year more than I have seen other years.

I had scheduled a hearing in State Affairs on Wednesday for a bill that would have moved the primary election to August where it resided prior to 1980. I almost chickened out about going ahead with the hearing because I rather suspected that there was not enough support in the committee to get it passed to the floor of the House. And I knew that having all of the county clerks from around the state there, they would more than likely let their wishes be known. But I decided to go ahead knowing that a lot of clerks would have the chance to testify on the bill because they were already in town for their meetings.

When I came into the hearing room I spent some time talking and joking around with the clerks prior to the meeting telling them I hoped they wouldn’t be too rough on me. It was particularly noteworthy that several indicated during their testimony that they had previously not participated in a committee hearing of any kind. Well, at least I was right about one thing, the bill went down in flames.

Later that evening Sen. Tippets, Rep. Gibbs and I met with county elected officials from our district to discuss legislation and rumors of legislation. They wanted to know what the chances were for some matters to pass and wanted us to ease their fears of some of the rumored things they had heard about. I can wholeheartedly recommend these “over a bowl of ice cream” discussions. Come to think of it, when things get a little “hot” around this place maybe we should cool off with a bowl.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

David Ripley: Obama Keeps Digging

February 11th, 2012 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Under the guise of extending a “compromise”, Obama has deepened the moral and constitutional problems instigated by his insistence that women deserve free birth control pills, abortifacients and sterilizations.
Rather than force Christian employers to directly finance these morally objectionable drugs, Obama will now force us all to pay for them through higher insurance premiums. Now it is not just church-sponsored organizations which will be compromised, but virtually every American who will be required to finance Obama’s bizarre notion that “contraceptives” are a birth right for any female.

Under his announced “compromise”, insurance companies will now be required to offer “free” contraceptives and abortifacients to any female covered by one of their policies.

But not even Obama can repeal fundamental economic laws. There is no such thing as a “free” drug. Someone will pay. And it won’t be insurance company executives. The costs will simply be buried into the general price of coverage. A little bookkeeping voodoo – and – problem solved. Thus, the Catholic Church and other Christian employers have actually gained nothing except a veneer of respectability, should they choose to accept it.

The grand question is whether the Catholic Bishops will be driven by moral principle or political expediency as they determine a response next week. We should be in prayer for them.

But don’t expect insurance companies to raise much of a fuss over this new edict. The risks are too high. They are now virtual prisoners of the Obama Administration; government-sponsored corporations akin to Fannie Mae. Their management’s loss of soul will cost taxpayers dearly in coming years.

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

Andi Elliott: Open Letter to Jefferson County State Senator Jeff Siddoway

February 9th, 2012 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

I have just now finished reading the AP news story of your proposal this morning in Boise. Did you really propose using live animals as bait in order to attract wolves? It is enough that Sheriff Olsen (yes, I know he is your friend) and Rob Dunn have embarrassed our county nationwide several times before over their indifference to the suffering of animals and now this? I specifically wrote that editorial last week praising them for prosecuting the Roberts man for starving his horses hoping (perhaps against hope) that Jefferson County was stepping up to the 21st Century… but I guess I am wrong.

I’ve been to your home/ranch and have seen your dogs…would you use one of them for “live bait”? And why would you gut the animal torture and cock fighting aspects of the legislation? Are you totally inhumane? Both of our religions teach of our role in caring for God’s creatures. I am appalled that you would condone this much less spearhead this effort. I’m sure you’ve read that the character of a nation is judged by their treatment of animals. Do the honorable thing and resign…we need representatives in Boise that don’t use their position to promote their special interests. We need representatives that will protect those who can’t speak for themselves.

Andi Elliott
President of For the Love of Pets Foundation
Hamer

” … Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not
hold us guiltless, not to speak is to speak, not to act is to act.”
Dietrich Boenhoffer, a German pastor who stood against the Nazis.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature | No Comments »

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