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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, January 20

January 21st, 2014 by Halli

Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

This time of session is a good time to begin drafting legislation. Sometimes it takes several tries to get a draft in shape for introducing in a committee. A lot of ideas are bouncing around right now to see if there is enough support before testing them in front of a committee. One example was an email I received from someone in Boise this past week wanting to introduce a bill naming the salamander the state reptile. Since they came to the House last year I suggested that they start in the Senate this time around.

Rules review continues and as usual there are some with a bit of controversy attached. We had received word that a Racing Commission rule was allowing for betting machines in Historic Racing that were not talked about last year, and being one who likes to see firsthand what is happening, a few of us went down to see what it looked like. It was interesting to see the machines operate. Time is always the judge of some of the things we do here and if this is to help live horse racing it will become apparent soon.

You may have read what the CEC (state employee raises) committee did this week and the recommendation is now being reviewed by the budget committee. The caution, that is expressed every year, is to make sure that one time money is not used for ongoing wage increases. My conversations with budget folks, so far at least, is that the one and one approach (one percent pay line move and one percent merit pay increase) is a number that can be achieved with the revenue projection that been made. None of this discussion has been about teachers but we are fully aware how the state employee raise issue influences the final outcome for teachers. I would expect we will see increases from the state for teachers as well.

The CAT (Catastrophic Healthcare Cost Program) presentation was made in the Budget Committee on Thursday. No conversation about healthcare is complete these days without bringing up the ACA (Obamacare) and how that figures into this budget. While there are a lot of unknowns because of the absence of solid numbers going forward, the other thing that cannot be easily overlooked is Medicaid Expansion or Redesign. Again as I talked to Budget people after the meeting, the resistance is still strong but may be weakening a bit. I cut my weekend short and traveled back to Boise to speak to a group, advocating for expansion. I have spoken to other groups as well these past few months and the title of my presentation is “Medicaid Expansion vs. Status Quo or Be Careful What You Ask For.” These were interesting conversations.

Throughout the discussion about the ACA is the cry for fresh ideas, and there are some that are forthcoming. One of those is community based clinics with a totally private solution, not involving government at all. Bring me the bill, I want to read it.

Helen Keller said, “College is not the place to go for ideas.” And what also proves accurate is that neither is the Legislature. Most of the real good ideas that come to this place come from our constituents. Ideas come and go but I would like to think that only the best ones make the cut.

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

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