By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone
There are a lot of things that happen in the legislature that don’t make the news much and in spite of that some of them have significance of a sort. Everything we do here is important to someone. One item I found interesting last week was a Concurrent Resolution (one that passes both houses of the legislature) that came out of State Affairs and was passed on the House Floor. It was a resolution commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of Power County. When the American Falls Dam was first constructed it necessitated moving the whole town. Not a big deal? It is a lesson for us now in that people then recognized how vital water would be to the future of the whole area. Water is no less important today.
Another proposal this past week that came to the State Affairs Committee was a measure that would have required the media to release the identity of an anonymous blogger when libelous statements would appear on a blog. It was in response to an incident in North Idaho where an individual was falsely accused. The committee worked the presenter over pretty hard and one of the interesting comments made was there really was something that needed to be done but this (bill), as one member of the committee put it, wasn’t soup yet.
Behind the scenes for some of us this week was a meeting of the Catastrophic Health Care Cost Board. The Director of the Department of Health and Welfare made us aware of changes coming to Medicaid that will push more caseload to the CAT fund and the counties. I wonder if that is a way for Washington to “encourage” Medicaid expansion. Remember how last week I mentioned putting a bill together for major changes to our medically indigent law, and that it might cause a stir? Not long after the discussion with the CAT Board, I received a call from the H&W director wanting to talk.
Quite a debate, also a bit behind the scenes, is to know how and if the legislature should include recorded archives of floor and committee debate as part of the official record of the proceedings of the bodies. As it stands now the minutes of the committee meetings and the House and Senate Journals are the official records for use by the courts and the public. We have an intern that is researching how other states are addressing the modern era because almost anyone with an internet connection can record the proceedings of the legislature. It may not be the kind of thing that would seem important, but from time to time it comes up, just what were they thinking?
There are a series of “gun bills” that will soon surface and there are several liquor licensing issues soon to hit as well and some lottery and horseracing items that are being talked about. So it looks like a busy time ahead. And we will deal with them one at a time, and knowing the State Affairs Committee, they will be examined very carefully. Will they be soup yet? We will see, we will see.
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