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Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 10, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-BOne

This week reminded me of saying I heard once, “Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” There are a wide variety of topics that will probably shape the outcome of this year’s legislative session.

There are a number of ideas about how to provide additional funding for roads and bridges for the state. There has been a menu developed from which we would be able to choose. One item is to increase the fuel tax five cents per gallon this year and add an additional one cent each year thereafter. Another item is to impose large increases for registration of electric cars and hybrids. Yet another item on the menu is to impose a fuel transfer fee on each gallon of fuel including fuel used in agriculture. Since Idaho has some of the lowest vehicle registration fees in the country, (we are told) another proposal is to increase all registration fees for all types of vehicles with even heavier increases for large trucks.

Those are just a few of the ideas that are being tossed around having to do with transportation funding. While meeting with County officials last week, they put in their idea for a share of the gas tax increase to go to local governments for road construction and maintenance.

There are a few folks around here that are pushing for a separate presidential primary to be held in March of each presidential election year. There have been a lot of concerns expressed about the caucus system that is being used by both the Republican and Democratic parties. I’ve been asked by several what I thought of the idea, and I have been quite frank about it. If you think it is hard to get a good turnout at two elections in a year, just imagine how much more difficult it would be to have a large turnout three times in one year. And then there is the cost to consider. Well, at least at this point it’s just an idea.

Another issue that is getting a lot of conversation around this place is the Idaho Education Network. At this point there is so much conflicting information about where we are and what potential solutions might present themselves, that it is difficult to even come up with ideas to fix the problem. So far rather than ideas, the main focus seems to be on damage control. That lends itself to the idea of correcting problems that exist in the way services are contracted for the state. A lot of different numbers have been floating around about what it will take to keep the network operating at least until the end of the school year.

So there you have it, just a few of the ideas that are being tossed around the legislature like pizza. So far a lot of tossing to see what might stick. Ideas are like pizza in another way, some really good and others not so much.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 1, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

We were greeted early Monday morning by a crowd of people backed up for almost the entire length of the west and east wings of the capitol. I got a few laughs along the way as I asked, “Is there a party going on somewhere?” I knew of course that they had come from all over the state to participate in the hearing for House Bill 2 (aka; add the words). It turned out to be what is thought to be the largest and longest hearing in the history of the state.

It took over 22 hours of committee time with almost 200 people testifying on the legislation. Everyone who indicated they wanted to testify had a chance to do so. the committee was preached to, castigated for waiting so long, and we even had a lecture or two from lawyers and psychologists. At the beginning of the third day I quoted a former legislator that was famous for his homey little homilies in an effort to expedite the testimony and to avoid duplication. “The oftener you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets” was his favorite.

Testimony from both sides was passionate and very emotional. After all of the testimony was taken, the vote was to hold the bill in committee. No one in those hearings came away without having deep impressions from what was heard.

There is so much in the background that happens to facilitate a hearing like this. A huge thank you goes out to the Sergeant of Arms and support staff, the Secretaries, the Pages, Security and the State Police. Having directly seen what they did I am in awe.

Other things around this place of interest this week have mostly to do with the budget process. This was the week for education with all of the University Presidents in town to make their pitch for more money, guaranteeing no increase in tuition if the legislature appropriates the money they say they need. The Superintendent of Public Instruction presenting a budget request lower than the Governor is a first, but in either case a large increase.

Hearings will soon begin on the Idaho Education Network. There are several ideas floating around about how to fix this mess, one of which is for the local school districts to apply directly to the Feds for funds to operate the network. I keep thinking about possible outcomes for the Historical Racing issue and I am sure the State Affairs Committee has only begun with interesting hearings this year. As for Medicaid Redesign, I hear a groan every time it is brought up.

It was great to get home for the weekend and get some fresh air and prepare for the week ahead. Linda was in Boise with me last week and as we pulled into our driveway she did what she always does after being gone for a few days. She said, “This is the best place on earth.” Home always is, isn’t it?

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, 19 January 2015

January 19th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Setting the stage for a legislative session is usually what the first week is all about. At least that is what most people around this place would tell you. Generalities were the order of the day as the Governor delivered his message. There were lots of goals with not a great deal of detail about how to get there.

The top of the list this year, as in other years, is education with larger increases than some might have expected. Most of what he outlined might be achievable if the revenue stream for it holds up. Keep in mind that the budget we will set is eighteen months out and is the caution that we look at every year. Subtopics up for a lot of discussion are Common Core (a hot one) and State Affairs will be taking a hard look at what happened and where we are headed with the Idaho Education Network as a part of a larger topic of purchasing for these types of items.

Another theme was more road money and since the State Of The State, legislators have been trying to figure out just what he really meant and how there were no plans laid out for the Legislature to consider. “This is what we need, you figure it out,” does not give a lot of direction. He was firm about not diverting sales tax spent on vehicle related items such as tires, batteries and repairs to the road fund. I can already hear the talk now how this is the right time to up the gas tax because the cost of fuel is down so people can afford it. Just when you thought you had an extra buck in your pocket.

Medicaid expansion suggestion is one of just listen to the folks who worked on the committee and then again, you decide. What I have been interested in is a plan that is being looked at by several here to do a system involving primary care. What will gain traction around here remains to be seen. There are plenty of Medicaid skeptics in these halls.

House Bills 1, 2, and 3 are coming to the State Affairs Committee for further review. It’s a little unusual that the first three are all headed in our direction. House Bill 1 is to designate the Idaho Giant Salamander as the State Amphibian. That should be a great bill to start the session. House Bill 3 is a correction of election law to bring it into compliance with the State Constitution. House Bill 2 will be a big one and I am sure you will be hearing a lot about” add the four words” over the next little while.

So stay tuned and hold on to your wallets, the Legislature is in session. The stage definitely is set for long days and a myriad of topics. And I haven’t even mentioned agency rules.

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

David Ripley: The Limits of Scientific Understanding

January 17th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The story of Martin Pistorious is not particularly miraculous, but it carries profound warnings for a society moving so quickly to dispatch people at the first signs of serious trouble. As a young boy, Martin suffered from an attack of meningitis. Doctors declared that he had become a “vegetable” based upon his inability to speak, make eye contact or otherwise move. He slipped into a coma. They sent him home to die.

But for 12 years, he refused to die.

His parents cared for him, despite the apparent lack of progress. His father would bathe him and bring him to a care center during the day while he worked. The nurses at the facility would sit him in front of a VCR to watch an endless loop of Barney episodes.

The problem was that Martin was totally aware of his surroundings – but unable to do anything about it.

“After two years, I began to wake up. I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone.”

Martin is now 39 years old and married.

What if some compassionate person had decided to simply starve this poor young boy to death? Can you imagine how miserable and painful that would have been? Could it be denied that, if things had taken such a course, young Martin would have been miserably murdered?

Nor is Martin’s case singular.

Kate Allat, a young mother of 39, suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. For ten days she was unable to communicate, move or even breathe on her own. But she was aware. Painfully aware that she would be unable to defend herself should some Samaritan decide to “relieve her suffering” by taking her off life support systems.

Such stories ought to inspire us all – particularly those in the medical professions and positions of power – to a place of humility. It is strikingly obvious that there is much we don’t understand about the human brain, about life itself. From a place of humility and respect for life, we should turn away from the drive to so casually discard people who need care.

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

David Ripley: Idaho Public TV “Celebrating” George Tiller

September 3rd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Your tax dollars at work – with a little help from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

On Labor Day, Idaho Public TV aired a special called “After Tiller”, depicting the life and times of notorious baby killer, George Tiller. Before his death, Tiller was the nation’s leading late-term abortionist, operating under the legal and political protection of Kathleen Sebelius back when she was governor of Kansas.

Tiller’s operation was so vast that he had his own backyard incinerator to dispose of the little babies he butchered in his clinic. We remember the ashes of preborn children descending upon the shoulders and hair of pro-Life protesters outside his abortuary.

Public Broadcasting will “celebrate” George Tiller on Monday evening (10 pm, Boise time) and apparently mourn his passing.

ALL’s Judie Brown issued a blistering commentary about the matter on Friday morning. She has, of course, not yet seen the broadcast. But she has carefully the promotional materials PBS is using to encourage viewership. She also ran across an interview with the producer, Lana Wilson. She defended her work, arguing that people like Tiller deserve “to have more compassion… instead of judging”.

Mrs. Brown also uncovered the uncomfortable fact that the production of this dark propaganda effort came from America’s abortion industry.

We certainly don’t recommend that our readers take the time to watch this ugly “documentary”. Your time would be better spent asking your legislator whether the State of Idaho should continue to underwrite the operation of Idaho Public TV as a public relations vehicle for Planned Parenthood.

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

David Ripley: An Atomic Thrust at ObamaCare

August 15th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The recent ruling by judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals represents a major threat to the entire structure of ObamaCare. It is, by far, the most serious threat yet to Obama’s agenda.

Media outlets have focused on the issue of tax funded subsidies flowing throughout the ObamaCare enterprise to individuals and insurance companies. The fact that the Appeals Court struck down those subsidies in the majority of states who did not create a “state exchange” is certainly a major blow. Among other implications, it would seem obvious that the ruling – if upheld on certain appeal to the Supreme Court – will have the effect of invalidating most of the individual contracts being purchased to date through the federal exchange.

The aspect of the ruling receiving less attention – that federal exchanges cannot impose penalties on individuals and companies – seems to be the most important. Unless the federal government retains the coercive power to impose ObamaCare on people and businesses, there is no possibility that ObamaCare can function. This is the part of ObamaCare which has spread fear and loathing throughout the private sector as business leaders face the prospect of IRS agents swooping down upon small and medium businesses to impose draconian penalties if they failed to comply with the insurance mandates.

Of course the Obama Regime has been fighting madly to deny that their law made any meaningful distinction between a “federal” exchange and a “state” exchange. At most, they have argued, the absence of language to impose penalties or give away tax dollars in the code section creating a federal exchange is a “typo”.

But, of course, laws are laws. They say what they say, regardless of post-hoc constructions. The legislation Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass in order to actually read does not say anything about the federal exchange’s power to impose penalties. All of that language is in the sections dealing with state-based exchanges.

And, it turns out, this is no accident. The intrepid Rush Limbaugh has uncovered public statements by the law’s leading architect, one Jonathan Gruber. The man is an economics professor at MIT. Mr. Limbaugh has two video clips on his website right now in which Professor Gruber clearly explains that the ObamaCare law was written to coerce states into partnering with Obama in remaking America. There were the incentives of subsidies … and the sticks of penalties. Professor Gruber makes it clear that Obama & Company never envisioned that a majority of states would declined their gracious offer. This is a key piece of the backstory over ObamaCare’s disastrous roll-out.

This whole issue was hotly debated when the Idaho Legislature considered creating a state exchange. We were among those telling legislators that the ObamaCare law was badly written and that there was every chance that Idaho’s employers could be protected from serious sanctions if Idaho stood firm against Obama and his agenda. We were scoffed at by proponents.

At the very least, it seems clear that Idaho made a serious mistake in rushing to create a state exchange. On the other hand, the problem may be a more serious one for those who voted to partner with Obama.

The ruling by the DC Circuit demonstrates that our concerns were not only valid, they were very serious.

The matter will not be settled until the Supreme Court considers Obama’s over-reach and sleight of hand in pretending that the ObamaCare law gives the IRS enormous powers to regulate American enterprise. Our bet is that Obama is going to lose this fight, meaning that he will have to wait upon Congress to amend the law or abandon the whole scheme.

Such a ruling will not, tragically enough, bring any relief to the citizens or businesses operating in Idaho since the Legislature has made its pact with the devil. In that event, pressure will be fierce for the Legislature to repeal the state exchange.

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

David Ripley: Tremendous Victory at Supreme Court

July 1st, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Thank You Lord.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case was of tremendous importance to the pro-Life movement. At stake was the question of whether a president of the United States could force private employers, against their wills and conscience, to pay for the destruction of innocent preborn children.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court upheld the sacred principle that the whims of those holding political power do not trump religious freedom. (Remember that the “Obama Mandate” is not the result of legislation duly enacted by the Congress and signed into law by the President – but a gross abuse by Mr. Obama of his executive authority).

It is chilling, indeed, to consider the consequences for America had the Court failed to recognize and uphold the First Amendment, which is the founding notion of this nation.

Among those joining us in celebrating the victory is Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association: “We are very thankful that the Supreme Court acted to protect family businesses from government coercion and fines for simply honoring the tenets of their faith. This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this Administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government’s viewpoint in matters of conscience.”

Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter also issued a statement yesterday:

“As governor of one of the states weighing in on this case, I’m encouraged to see religious liberty trumping ObamaCare’s headlong rush to impose a contraceptive mandate on the American people. Today’s ruling confirms once again the President Obama’s policies when left unchecked – are eroding our Constitutional rights. I remain committed to challenging that misguided course at every opportunity, and I’m grateful to courageous individuals and employers willing to stand up and be counted.”

The governor’s acknowledgement of the Green Family is more than appropriate. They are patriots who have stood in the breach not only for the Christian community in America – but for that golden idea which inspired a new and great nation.

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

David Ripley: Wasden Joins Hobby Lobby Fight

June 22nd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The U.S. Supreme Court should release its very consequential ruling in the Hobby Lobby lawsuit very soon. We ask that you commit yourself to serious prayer on behalf of the Court and this nation as we sit at the crossroads.

Will the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom be protected by the highest court in the land? Or will we be compelled to painfully set-aside our religious values and God’s teaching in order to accommodate the political agenda of the latest occupant of the White House? Most people probably don’t understand the huge stakes in this legal fight; in part that is the result of a liberal press committed to protecting Obama and the Left’s sexualized social agenda.

The simple fact is that America’s liberals have virtually declared war on a citizen’s right to “opt-out” of their social agenda. We have even seen Idaho Democrats consistently attack the notion of religious liberty and rights of conscience over the past six years or so – whether that be the right of small businessmen to refuse to participate in the homosexual political agenda , or pharmacists’ right not to dispense abortion-causing drugs.

Liberals have “progressed” well beyond any notion of tolerance. Now they are boldly prepared to use the power of government to squelch dissension and ensure conformity to their social agendas.

One of the important developments in this case – ignored by the media – is that a number of states have taken up the cause of Hobby Lobby. An amicus brief was filed in January by 20 states’ Attorneys General arguing that the Obama Mandate was not simply an attack on religious liberty, but an assault on states’ rights as well.

Since the founding of this nation, corporations have been a matter regulated by the various states. They are the entities which issue articles of corporations, manage tax policy and other areas vital to the nation’s economic vitality. Suddenly the Obama Regime seeks to dictate the terms of their operation and create a federal “common law” which supersedes the powers of the various states.

We are encouraged that Idaho’s Lawerence Wasden was one of those attorneys general going to bat for us before the Supreme Court.

Fervent prayer is in order as this battle is fundamentally spiritual in nature. It will be hard to return to First Principles if the Supreme Court holds that the First Amendment no longer safeguards our right to follow God rather than Caesar.

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

David Ripley: US Birthrate Hits New Low

June 2nd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

America had a birth rate of 63 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age in 2013, a new record low. This continues a trend building since the Clinton Administration, in which the U.S. is following the lead of other western nations in failing to produce enough children to replace aging citizens.

The fertility rate now stands at 1.87 children for each American woman over her lifetime, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per female.

Certainly the explanation for America’s collective decision to demographically destroy itself isn’t for lack of the necessary sexual activity. The nation has never been more obsessed with that particular recreational activity. The enormous rate of abortion offers a ready explanation for the dwindling number of new Americans. One sixth of the population has been killed by abortion since 1973. One-in-four African Americans are killed in the womb. As Law Professor Michael Paulsen of St. Thomas notes in a recent article, abortion is the leading cause of unnatural death in America.

The economic and political implications of this demographic implosion are difficult to gauge in their totality; however, we can assume a weakened economic productivity going forward. An aging population will mean fewer resources available to care for the aged and a fierce battle over the allocation of capital for production over consumption.

One wonders where to look for the political and social leadership necessary to help our society confront the practical dangers of our present moral confusion surrounding the value of human life.

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

David Ripley: Troupis for Attorney General

May 1st, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Let’s start with a few basics.

For many years, Chris Troupis has served as the (largely uncompensated) legal counsel for Idaho Chooses Life. He has donated countless hours to our efforts to secure greater legal protections and recognition of the humanity of Idaho’s preborn citizens. And we are not the only charitable organization that Troupis has helped during his distinguished legal career.

The present Attorney General, Lawrence Wasden, is pro-Life. He has shown up for work every time Idaho has been sued by one abortion group or another and defended the work of the pro-Life community through the Idaho Legislature.

While he has sometimes lost those legal efforts, that can not be fairly or easily laid at his feet. Despite our conservative values and culture, Idaho is oppressed by the most hostile federal judges in the country. Idaho’s district court judge, Lynn Winmill, is every bit as liberal as the 9th Circuit. Wasden’s burden, therefore, in defending even the most modest pro-Life protection against the Abortion Lobby is a heavy one.

And yet, there have been frustrations in dealing with the Attorney General’s office. We believe a better job can be done in securing the right-to-life for all Idahoans.

Chris Troupis will be a champion for the preborn child and a hard-working advocate for Idaho’s values.

Chris is a fine attorney with a great heart. He will bring a fresh vision and new energy to Idaho’s second-most important constitutional office.

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

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