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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, February 22

February 24th, 2016 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

More than likely you have heard the radio commercials that are sponsored by the J.A. & Catherine Albertson Foundation that for some time have been telling us about all the deficiencies in education in the state of Idaho. It gets a little discouraging hearing all of those things about how “bad” education is here.

Last Friday the Teton High School girl’s basketball team came to town to participate in the tournament. Representative Marc Gibbs and I were able to spend some time with them touring the capital. We were able to get them into the governor’s office for a look around there and to take a few pictures. We also took them to the House floor and talked to them about how bills are passed in the legislature. What a great group of young ladies.

We told them about our page program that provides an opportunity for seniors in high school to come and help us during the legislative session. It is such a good opportunity for them and the pages learn a great deal during their time with us. Toward the end of our time with the team, their coach told me that the average grade point for these girls is 3.87. That is quite an accomplishment for those young ladies and it sounds like we are seeing successes and doing something right in our schools. I would hope that the Albertson Foundation could find the success stories that we have in Idaho instead of just looking for all the things that they seem to think are wrong with our schools.

For several years it has been my feeling that we needed to seriously consider creating a gaming agency that would regulate all of the gaming activities in the state. Particularly in light of what occurred last year with regard to historical racing. It could have been a vehicle that would have prevented much of the problem that occurred. I was able to get a bill introduced that would provide oversight of all the gaming activities that Idaho has including the lottery, pari-mutuel wagering, and tribal gaming. There have been several that have indicated that they would like to visit with me about the bill. Whether we like it or not, over the last few years Idaho has become a gaming state. That had its beginnings when the voters approved a change in the Constitution to allow for a lottery.

It was a good weekend for me at home. I was able to have some time with the family and to get out and take a look at the cattle and see how things are progressing there. Maybe more than anything else it was a chance to get out and breathe the fresh air. My son Bruce can hardly wait to start tilling the ground and start planting the crops. I had to remind him that it’s February and oh by the way the calving season has just barely begun. For some reason or other I don’t think we’ve seen the last of winter, even though at our elevation most of the snow disappeared this last week. Everything in its proper time and season.

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

Tom Loertscher: House Highlights – Feb. 15

February 17th, 2016 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

It seems like that around this place you don’t have to set about generating controversy, it just happens to naturally find you. It was one of those weeks where several things came to the forefront that are being talked about continuously either in the press or by way of email streams coming to legislators.

Medicaid expansion is being talked a lot about but not so much among my colleagues. Now we find ourselves looking at what Governor Otter is calling a primary care model that would provide some care for the “gap population.” While it does not provide for full coverage in the same way that Medicaid would, it is thought that people in that population would at least be able to get affordable primary health care in an effort to stave off more serious conditions. We should soon have an idea whether that will fly around here. As for Medicaid expansion, there does not seem to be a whole lot of appetite to do that at the present time. As I’ve said before my only regret is that we are not willing to at least learn the ins and outs of Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion has its good side and it’s not so good side. I was having a conversation with a constituent last week about how counties are required to cover at least the emergency portion of treatment for the “gap population.” The response was interesting because the biggest objection was that the county could put a lien on your assets in an effort to recoup whatever sums have been spent on your behalf. A little known or at least not much talked about provision in Medicaid is that your assets are automatically liened if you are a recipient of the program. The letter you get from the Department of Health and Welfare goes something like this: “Dear ________, We wish to express our condolences for the loss of your loved one. We hereby give you notice of claim against the estate of that individual.” That doesn’t sound a lot different than the county’s program except you will be dealing with the federal government rather than your local county commissioners.

Constitutional Carry, a.k.a. permitless concealed carry, is generating more than its share of comments about getting a hearing this year. I suggested that since the Senate is probably the biggest hurdle for them to cross that they should start the bill there instead of in the House. That has resulted in a series of emails that have not been exactly complementary. A few of those communiqués have been downright vulgar and some threatening. What makes it even worse is that these individuals will not identify who they are and where they live or include a phone number so that you could call them back. Those who have called and conversed with me at least understand that at the present time there is no bill and that it would be better if they get the legislation through the Senate first.

When it comes to issues that seem to have at least an element of controversy attached to them, all concerned need to realize that there is always another side of the story. Name calling and the lack of civility is not a recommended way to get things done here or anywhere else for that matter. What is that old saying about honey and vinegar? And since we have just celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, a quote from him might be appropriate. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

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

David Ripley: A Hero of the Republic Goes to His Reward

February 15th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The nation was stunned by the sudden loss of Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday. Grief is mixed with alarm over the prospect that Barack Obama could somehow gain the upper hand to send the Supreme Court, and the nation with it, over the great abyss by picking a history-changing replacement on the high court.

But there will be plenty of days to worry and pray that the GOP Majority in the Senate will be up to the task of stiff-arming Obama’s radical judicial agenda until his term mercifully ends.

For now, we should gratefully celebrate the incredible contributions Justice Scalia has made to his nation. His powerful reason and rabid defense of the Constitution has earned him a place in that great Hall of Patriots.

One could – and many will – read his opinions and blistering dissents on any number of challenges to the fundamental liberties of our Republic. But we are most appreciative of his stellar defense of the right to life and his scorn for those who invented a right to kill out of pure ideological fancy. Here is but one sample of his potent pen, written in the first case on Partial Birth Abortion:

I am optimistic enough to believe that, one day, Stenberg v. Carhart will be assigned its rightful place in the history of this Court’s jurisprudence beside Korematsu and Dred Scott. The method of killing a human child-one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child-proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion. . . . The notion that the Constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, “to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” prohibits the States from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd.

We acknowledge the grief of a nation, and that of the Scalia family over his sudden departure. But it is hard not to celebrate such a life as

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Conservative Cyborg: The Real Dangers of Donald Trump

February 15th, 2016 by Halli

by Conservative Cyborg

Credit where credit is due: Donald Trump is a masterful showman and self-promoter. He has the timing of a top-notch comedian, and the singleminded persistence of a pit bull. He has honed these skills over a lifetime of scrapping his way to the top of a very rough neighborhood.

There is no way, however, that skills of such dubious value in the national political arena can account for Trump’s rocket to the top of the GOP presidential field. To explain that adequately, one must examine the volatile mixture of a consummate showman and a populace desperate to fight back against the leftist movement that has made such strides in its war on traditional American values—largely unimpeded by the party that was given landslide victories with the expectation that it would assiduously represent the people in combatting the leftist-statist onslaught.

When Barack Obama rose from being a relative unknown in the Democratic Party, a man whose chief claim to fame was as a rabble-rousing Alinskyite community organizer, he did so by being all liberal things to all liberal people: Obama’s lack of a verifiable past allowed his supporters to overlay on him every hope they had ever had for a liberal presidential candidate. Obama’s vague bromides of “Hope and Change,” with little or no substance that could be analyzed for merit, left people free to pin their hopes for change—whatever the specifics of that change might be—on him, propelling him into the White House. That was quite an accomplishment.

Obama bettered that accomplishment four years later by riding that same vagueness to reelection, in spite of a first term that had failed America and the American people in every measurable way. Unspecified, nebulous, but wonderful change was still tantalizingly achievable, we had just not hoped enough yet. We obviously needed four more years of hope.

If Obama accomplished political marvels, Trump is on his way to making Obama look like a piker. Where Obama’s sketchy past held nothing to disqualify him among his liberal base, Trump’s extremely public life is chock full of things that should, at the very least, throw up big red flags to Republican—especially conservative Republican—voters. That Trump can with impunity brush off such a seriously disqualifying history is a tribute to both his emotional sway and his supporters’ desperation for someone, anyone who will channel their legitimate anger and champion their righteous cause—even when they can have no expectation based in fact that Trump is the one best suited to fight for them.

Trump follower after Trump follower will gleefully explain how he or she is happy to sacrifice his or her most sacred values and issues because “Trump is the only one who will fight for me,” even though Trump has given no solid indication of what values he will actually represent when the time comes to fight.

No one is allowed to question Trump’s past, character, abilities, knowledge, wisdom, demeanor, or motives; he is the guy who will get things done. What things? Irrelevant! He will get them done.

Herein is found the freakishly cultish nature of Trump’s following: they have no care about his real plans; they have blind faith that he will do whatever it is they most desire. In their blind faith, they resemble Obama supporters of elections past; but the credulity and outright gullibility of Trump’s followers outstrips that of Obama’s supporters by far: Obama has never espoused values and beliefs that were so anathema to his base as Trump has to his. In the lexicon of Eric Hoffer, each of them is a True Believer.

This is the secret of the “Trump Coalition”: individuals’ values are quickly laid aside and forgotten in deference to the One who says He will fix everything and Make America Great Again. People of many disparate and even competing, mutually exclusive beliefs are united in one thing: their utter belief that Trump is the only one who will do what they want, even though it is impossible for Him to do what everyone wants.

With regard to Trump’s personal motives, in place of a desire to serve the public and do what is best for America, Trump exudes the air of a bored snob and political dilettante who flipped a coin in order to decide whether to add climbing Mount Everest or running for US President to his bucket list. Tails… US President it is.

To his followers, Trump may be a narcissistic, liberal-leaning, Constitution-ignoring, megalomaniacal strongman, but he is THEIR narcissistic, liberal-leaning, Constitution-ignoring, megalomaniacal strongman. What could go wrong? Go Trump!

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Posted in Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Go Out and Annoy an Abortionist

February 8th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The winning ad from this year’s Super Bowl has to be the Doritos ad, which shows a playful interaction between a Dad and his preborn baby. It was warm, funny and made the point that Doritos are pretty tasty.

On the way, it also built upon the common sense understanding that the preborn child is a conscious human being while yet in the womb.

That was enough to outrage the folks over at NARAL – the association of professional baby assassins. They actually blasted out a tweet denouncing the ad: “Not Buying It – that Doritos ad using the anti-choice tactic of humanizing fetuses ….”

This tells us everything we need to know about the mindset over at NARAL – an understanding of the world which hinges upon a delusional fantasy in which the “fetus” is not even human. These are the lies they must tell themselves to get up each day.

We urge our friends to go out and buy a bag of Doritos in the next couple days, if only to annoy an abortionist.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 8

February 8th, 2016 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

The other day, after the House had adjourned, a few of my colleagues gathered around my desk and our conversation was reminiscent of the way we used to talk to each other before the capital was renovated. In our civil discourse workshop we had during the first week of the session, one of the things that we learned was that we need to talk to each other and get to know each other a little better. I’ve been making an effort to do that and have found interesting stories about some of my colleagues.

One said that she did not want to run for office at all, but was told by people in her district that she needed to do so. She told them no! They got the paperwork together and persuaded her to file. There are several here who are no stranger to hardships in their lives and those stories are very interesting and sometimes heart wrenching.

This past week was the week that County commissioners and other County elected officials found their way to Boise for what they call their Midwinter Conference. It gives them a chance to visit with everyone from the Governor to their legislators. One of the topics of discussion was the proposal that the Governor has made for the state to create a new public defender program. The biggest concern that our counties have is that they would lose control and possibly end up paying for services that they would not receive or have no use for. For the most part, the counties of district 32 just want to be left alone, and they are telling us that they are doing just fine. When it comes to government that is how a lot of people feel.

I was approached by one of the press corps asking about my feelings on how frequently Idaho seems to amend its constitution. Right now there are several proposals that are being looked at, one of which is referred to as the Blaine amendment. Because there is a prohibition in the Constitution about using state funds on religious schools, and the fact that we have established what is known as the Opportunity Scholarship, there is concern that such a scholarship could not be used at any of the religiously sponsored colleges in the state. What the amendment would do would be to clarify the language to make it possible for scholarships of that kind to be used in that setting. A couple of examples of those colleges are Northwest Nazarene College in the Treasure Valley and BYU Idaho a little closer to our area of the state. The email stream on that has picked up substantially and it looks like we will be having a hearing on that in State Affairs in the coming week.

The budget committee is still working diligently on putting a budget together, or at least hearing from all of the agencies along with their wish lists. We are still on track to keep our commitments to education that we began last year. Educators at home still want to make sure that they have discretionary funds, aka, money without strings attached.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee took up the subject of Medicaid expansion and the result was about the same as poking a five hundred pound gorilla. They called it informational, with very little testimony taken. Dr. Krell from Idaho Falls blamed the Legislature for the death of a thousand people for not doing expansion. That did not sit well and it also unleashed blistering editorials around the state on both sides of the issue. While it is easy to play the blame game, there is as with most things more to the story. For me, I just wish my colleagues would do their homework and decide what is best for Idaho.

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

David Ripley: Death Lobby Descends on Utah

February 4th, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Utah Democrat state representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck introduced legislation today that would create a right to physician-assisted suicide in the state of Utah.

HB 264 is called the “End of Life Options Act”, and would allow a physician to prescribe deadly drugs for a patient diagnosed with a condition that could reasonably be expected to cause natural death within six months.

There are various clap-traps in the bill – including a requirement that the attending physician determine that the patient is acting voluntarily, and encouraging the patient to share his or her determination to die prematurely with family members. But the primary purpose of the legislation is to implement the agenda of the Death Lobby. Under the rhetorical cloud of “compassion”, Ms. Houck and others seek to end the lives of elderly and sick citizens prematurely. This saves money and trouble for many.

A similar effort was threatened in Idaho several years ago. Fortunately, through the leadership of this organization and people like Russ Fulcher, Cliff Bayer and Governor Otter, Idaho instead implemented an outright Ban on Assisted Suicide.

We pray that the Utah Legislature takes a similar tack: The only way to be rid of the Death Lobby is to take decisive action in positively rejecting their message and agenda.

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

David Ripley: Democrats Side with Planned Parenthood

February 3rd, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan held true to his word, and brought a veto override motion to the House floor last night. Republicans attempted to override President Obama’s veto of the Planned Parenthood defunding measure. Unfortunately, the effort fell short of the two-thirds’ majority required.

The motion to override on HR 3762 received 241 votes, while 186 members voted with Planned Parenthood and Obama.

Only 1 Democrat (Colin Peterson of Minnesota) voted to override the veto.

Idaho’s Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador voted again to defund Planned Parenthood.

The effort to sever our partnership with America’s largest abortion chain must now await the election of a new president.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, National Sovereignty, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 1

February 1st, 2016 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

The pace of the session has picked up and we now find several bills coming forward. We just hit a deadline last Friday which was the time for the filing of personal bills. A personal bill is one that is taken directly to the Chief Clerk of the House and is introduced to the whole without having gone through a committee first. On Friday a large number of personal bills were read across the desk, more than in recent years. Subject matter ranged from permitless concealed weapons carry legislation to constitutional amendments.

A rarely used maneuver on the house floor occurred on Friday as well, and that was the motion to lay on the table. It takes a simple majority of the body to lay it on the table which means that it cannot be considered unless two thirds of the body agrees to take it off the table. In effect it kills a bill. The motion was not successful and one of our age-old customs of the crow flying occurred. It is a little statuette in the form of a crow that passes around the body from time to time when a member makes a motion that does not get at least 20 votes in support. The effort made didn’t even come close, and the crow flew.

There’re a lot of background things going on right now, one of which is discussions on water. The governor has called for money to be used for recharge. We of course are very hopeful and there seems to be more snow around at the moment than we’ve seen for a couple of years. If that is any indication we might actually have water available for recharging our aquifers.

It might be of interest that this past week there were personal bills introduced in the Senate for the expansion of Medicaid. The chairman of the health and welfare in the Senate has agreed to hold hearings on the bill. It’s a pretty heavy subject for a committee to consider in the short time available, and it will be interesting to see how it is handled there. I had a chance to visit with some folks this week about the governor’s proposal of primary care and at this point it looks a little bit like it might have a tough sell among some legislators. Most of the discussion centers around how the program would be funded and is felt that if it is to get anywhere it will have to be modified some.

It was good to get home over the weekend and to take care of a couple of pressing matters there. The good news is, at least a portion of them got completed in time for my speedy return back to the capital city. It started to snow almost the moment I got home on Friday, snowed some more on Saturday, and it was snowing when I left home. And I only got stuck once. Together it accounted for approximately 10 inches of new snow. The little grandkids had a ball playing in the fluffy white stuff but not so much in the heavy wet snow that fell on Friday. Some places I traveled over the weekend, I noticed the fences starting to disappear little by little. Keep your fingers crossed, maybe this is one of those one year in ten recharge years. One of my friends commented that he didn’t care for the snow a whole lot and then admitted,” We sure do need it, so we’ll take it.” My sentiments exactly.

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

David Ripley: Planned Parenthood Goes in for Hillary

February 1st, 2016 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Planned Parenthood announced that it would be spending “six-figures” on media to help protect Hillary Clinton in Iowa from the insurgency campaign of socialist Bernie Sanders over this closing weekend.

The head of Planned Parenthood’s PAC argued in a press release, “There’s too much at stake for us to take a back seat in this election. Every single leading Republican candidate would strip health care from millions across the country – blocking patients from seeking services at Planned Parenthood, banning safe, legal abortion and even ending insurance coverage for birth control”.

She went on to burn her brand into the Abortion Industry champion:

“At the end of the day, [Hillary’s] the one we trust to go head-to-head with the extreme anti-abortion politicians hell-bent on rolling back the progress we’ve made….”

We’ll see if their endorsement can save Clinton from the quixotic campaign of Sen. Sanders. If she does, it will be up to us to make sure that Americans are confronted with the specter of Planned Parenthood’s hand-picked agent occupying the world’s most powerful office.

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

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