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Richard Larsen: Economic Benefits of Right-to-Work

March 26th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

This week Wisconsin became the 25th state in the union to pass and sign into law so-called “right to work” legislation. Despite the pejorative light oftentimes associated with right to Work (RTW) laws, in reality all they do is proscribe the requirement that a worker join or pay dues to a union as a qualification for employment.

Unions often view laws removing compulsory union membership for work in the private sector as “anti-union,” while advocates of right to work laws maintain it’s a matter of personal liberty and economic freedom. They argue that workers in given trades or industries should have the option to choose whether to join a union or not. Arguably, if a union is doing a good job representing the interests of its members, it should not be threatened by the freedom to choose, as the benefits of union membership would be self-evident.

Even some union leadership supports such a sentiment. Gary Casteel, the Southern region director for the United Auto Workers, explains, “This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, ‘If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong.’ Versus, ‘If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.’ I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.”

One cannot be a student of history without recognizing the tremendous contributions unions made to the emergence of the middle class in early to mid 20th century America. They significantly improved working conditions, workweek hours, and compensation levels.

In today’s highly competitive economy, their focus seems to have changed, as they seem to be primarily political entities today, with compulsory union dues used mostly for amassing power in the political arena, and spent on candidates and causes that some members may object to. Even Bob Chanin, former top lawyer for the National Education Association, admitted that in his farewell speech a few years ago. “It’s not about the kids…it’s about power,” he said.

According to Department of Labor statistics, only about 7% of America’s private sector workforce is unionized. In post World War II era, it was nearly 40%. The trend is reversed for public employees, where 60 years ago the unionized segment of the public employees workforce was less than 10%, while it currently is nearly 37%. Logic leads one to surmise that maybe all those “evil corporations” have gotten it right, and are providing pay and benefits at a level that employees are satisfied with. While the same logic might lead us to believe that, following those trends, it is “evil government” that is taking advantage of employees and must be represented by collective bargaining.

Average wages do tend to be slightly lower in right to work states, as reported by The Wall Street Journal last year. But the differences may be attributable to other factors. As the Journal explained, “Many economists say when differences in cost of living are taken into account, wages are roughly the same—or even higher—in right-to-work states.” When looking at a map of non-right to work states, geographical and cost of living factors seem to affirm that distinction.

Last year the National Institute for Labor Relations released a detailed study of right to work vs. non-right to work states. The research was based upon data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Census Bureau, United States Patent and Research Office and Bureau of Economic Analysis. Five economic factors were analyzed in right to work and non-right to work states in the Midwest, with the following statistical conclusions:

Job growth is twice as strong in RTW states. The percentage growth of non-farm private sector jobs (1995-2005)?in right to work states was 12.9%?while non-right to work states came in at 6.0%.

Perhaps surprising to some, poverty is actually higher in non-right to work states. Average poverty rate, adjusted for cost of living was 8.5% in RTW states, and 10.1% in non-right to work states. This may likewise have more to do with geography and cost of living factors, however.

New company and new product growth is significantly greater in RTW states. During that same period, annual percentage growth in patents granted was 33% in RTW states, and only 11% in non-right to work states.

Income growth rates are higher in RTW states as well. The percentage growth in real personal income was 26.0%?in RTW states, while non-right to work states grew at 19.0%.

Even health insurance coverage in RTW states fared better. Note that this data was gathered before implementation of Obamacare. The percentage growth in number of people covered by employment based private health insurance was 8.5% for RTW states, and 0.7%?for non-right to work states.

Consequently, based on National Institute for Labor Relations research, right to work states create more private sector jobs, enjoy lower poverty rates, experience more technology development, realize more personal income growth, and increase the number of people covered by employment-based private health insurance. Clearly when looking at the big picture, the economy of a state is more likely to be more robust when the workforce has the freedom to choose.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Pocatello Issues, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 23

March 26th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I had a chance this last weekend to do a little plowing at the ranch. I couldn’t help but think of a fellow I met years ago that had given up farming in order to get a job in town. I asked him why he did that and he said, “I got tired of going around in circles and getting nowhere.” I’ve never felt that way about farming and in fact I was glad to be able to spend some time on the tractor, getting a little therapy as it were.

The two biggest unresolved issues for this session are education and transportation. While visiting with the Speaker late last week, he assured me that things have progressed to the point that an agreement may soon be reached for education but there is still a wide gap on how to best find new money for transportation. No matter where the Transportation Committee looks, it involves higher gas taxes, higher registration fees, and a minor shift to the general fund. All of these issues seem to have some support but not enough yet to find its way into law.

In State Affairs I presented a Gaming Commission bill for introduction which is now known as House Bill 279. If we have learned anything from this racing bill it has been that there is a definite need for better regulation. It would do away with the Lottery Commission and the Racing Commission and puts in place a regulatory framework that would oversee all gaming in Idaho including Tribal Gaming. Later on in the week we had a hearing on the proposal but the State Affairs Committee decided to not forward the bill for any further discussion. As with most things around this place we had several who testified on both sides. For the most part the horse racing community was very much in favor of the bill and representatives of lottery interests and the tribes were not in favor. The bill was held in committee. The bill to repeal historical racing was voted out of committee and sent to the floor of the House.

I keep thinking that the controversial stuff is going to go away but we still have a couple of issues that we will be deciding in the coming week. There never seems to be a dull moment in the State Affairs Committee. I was visiting with a couple of members of the committee and they told me that it is usual for this committee to be involved with one or two controversial items during the session, but this year has been much different. It seems like we’ve had one or two of those difficult issues each week.

On the lighter side, a resolution was passed by the Senate and sent to the House declaring the week of September 28 through November 4, 2015 to be recognized throughout the state as National Diaper Need Awareness Week. (I am not making this up, and you can read the Senate Concurrent Resolution number 110 online). Let your imagination wander about the puns that were flying around on this one. The members of the State Affairs Committee decided that if there was time to talk about diapers on the House floor, there was time to talk about the state salamander. House Bill 1 was sent to the House floor with a do pass recommendation. The young lady who has been bringing this to the legislature for the past several years was surprised and ecstatic. So at least we made someone’s day. It doesn’t happen often.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 16

March 16th, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

A few weeks ago I was asked by a lobbyist when I would be scheduling a hearing on a particular bill. Kidding him a little I replied that I was looking at February 30th. He began to quiz me on why I had chosen that date. Another legislative advisor standing nearby began to laugh and then we had a good laugh together. We sometimes tend to take ourselves too seriously.

I was listening to some commentators on public TV and their lamenting that this has been a ‘do little” session. If that were true, some I know would say that’s a good thing. Also if it were true, it surely hasn’t seemed like we have been doing nothing. I imagine that comment comes because some of the larger things are still not resolved, namely education and transportation. Teacher career ladder legislation went down in flames in the Education Committee to the delight of teachers but not so much happiness for administrators. Work has begun on a different approach which might fare better.

As for transportation, three more ideas were introduced that don’t get to the level the governor wants or wouldn’t fill the gap that is said to exist. All of a sudden the effects of GARVEE bonds are settling in leaving us short on maintenance dollars.

All too often we encounter legislation that is aimed at fixing disputes between opposing groups. One of those issues that passed the House last week was the naturopath bill. Rather than fixing much it looks like it might cause more problems. If you read it carefully and if the Governor were to not appoint a board for the larger group of naturopaths, they would not be able to be licensed. The Attorney General sees some problems in the way the bill would operate. Because of the potential conflicts, I voted against the bill, but it now resides in the Senate.

We are in the middle of three other groups, the Racing Commission, the simulcasters and the Tribes. The historical racing repealer was heard in committee for a total of eight hours on two separate days. One comment from a conservative think tank that provoked some discussion was that this piece of legislation did not belong in the legislature because the result would be made by politics rather than sound principles of free enterprise. Maybe that’s fair but there is not a political safe haven on this one. A vote in favor of the bill makes it look like you favor one group over another , and a vote against it makes it look like you fully support gambling in Idaho. Being caught in the middle isn’t comfortable.

Looking toward an adjournment date, given the issues we have yet to resolve, looks like at least a week beyond the target date of March 27th. The test for an adjournment date in days gone by was that when the ground dried out enough for crops to be planted we’d head out of town. It isn’t that way so much these days. There is still serious business to do and in our part of the world, March seems too early to plant. Most of us are more concerned about water. With little or no snow pack, it’s going to take a lot of timely rain to make up the difference.

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

David Ripley: Planned Parenthood Appeals to Iowa Supreme Court

March 15th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Iowa Supreme Court held a hearing yesterday on objections by Planned Parenthood to a ruling last year by the Iowa Board of Medicine that outlawed its new system of “remote control” abortions.

During the hearing, Planned Parenthood revealed that it had used its “web-cam” method to destroy the lives of over 7,000 babies in Iowa since 2008. For almost all of that period, the organization publicly denied that it was delivering abortion drugs without an in-person examination by a qualified physician.

Planned Parenthood claims that their experimental procedure is “safe” – yet the Board of Medicine determined otherwise, finding that the nation’s largest abortion provider violated community standards of care.

Planned Parenthood has already lost its appeal of the Board of Medicine rules in an Iowa district court.

A former manager of a Planned Parenthood clinic using the remote control protocol has announced publicly that employees who actually see the women considering abortion hold no medical degree(s) and undergo about two days of training on an ultrasound machine.

It is truly astounding how little regard Planned Parenthood has for the women and girls who come to them for help in sorting out difficult situations.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 9

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Saturday night I made the mistake of changing only a few of the clocks in the house for the time change. When we woke up Sunday morning the conversation went something like this: Linda: What time is it? Tom: Ten to five. Linda: Is that real time? Tom: Well, I set this clock to daylight savings time. Linda: Did you move the clock forward or back? Tom: I moved it the correct way, I’m sure. Linda: What time is it then? Tom: Ten minutes to five. Linda: But is that real time? Tom: I give up.

This last week was the week to dread things. My mother-in-law would have said that we had enough dread. The issue that desperately needed attention was the “permitless conceal carry” bill. I did the novel thing of reading the bill. In addition to a misplaced modifier, the language actually would have required someone who desired to conceal carry without a permit, to comply with all of the requirements to get a permit (I am not making that up). Even though the sponsors tried to argue the point, I am sure that is not what they intended at all. Other portions of the bill left our reciprocity with other states in question, which was also not intended. Others around here have been working hard on this issue and we may soon see new legislation coming forward.

Historical racing is another of those things we have been dreading. If other members of State Affairs have had the kinds of discussions I have had on this bill, they have been busy. I had one lobbyist suggest that there needs to be a broader discussion of the future of gaming in Idaho, and that a gaming commission would be the pathway forward. I asked him if he saw wide open gaming in Idaho’s future. There was no real response. The horsemen are telling us that live horse racing will be destroyed if the repeal passes, and the Tribes are telling us that the machines the horsemen are using for historical racing are not legal. It looks like we are caught in the middle of another issue. House State Affairs will begin the hearing for this one on Wednesday.

Another item that has received some attention is a new Naturopath licensing bill that does something I have not previously seen. The bill would create a second naturopath board but would allow both groups to use the same titles with a slightly different scope of practice. Two different boards for the same profession is not what we see anywhere else. This has been a ten year process that has not been resolved, and this doesn’t seem like the right approach either.

Budgets are beginning to trickle into the full House with many more to come. There is still no consensus on what will be coming forward in the way of increases for highway funding. So far everyone is thinking that the other guys should pay, but there are way too many “other guys.” Ideas are bouncing around in a very creative way. The latest is to inflict a little pain on every conceivable source. It kind of reminds me of the idea that if you hit your thumb on your right hand with a hammer after you hit the left one, it won’t hurt so badly. But hurt it will.

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

David Ripley: Idaho House Approve Bill to Protect Women

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Idaho House voted 55-14 to approve HB 154, legislation we brought forward with Right to Life to ban “tele-med” abortions in Idaho. The legislation also includes several specific safety measures regarding the dispensation of RU-486.

Chemical abortions have become an increasing problem for Idaho, with about 40% of Idaho babies now being destroyed with deadly drugs which deprive the baby of food, water and oxygen in the early stages of a pregnancy. And those numbers are expected to climb as Planned Parenthood continues to seek ways to expand the envelope of its operations, operating well beyond the scope of FDA regulations governing the use of RU-486.

Planned Parenthood operatives across the nation are engaged in a highly sophisticated campaign to not only “normalize” RU-486 by calling it “medication” – but to expand its use. They see it as a cheap way to expand access to abortion and are happy to cut as many corners as possible to achieve that goal.

Democrats on the House floor unanimously opposed the legislation, arguing that it had nothing to do with protecting a woman’s health.

They remain willfully incognizant of the dangers posed to women by the abuse of RU-486. In the name of a woman’s “right to choose”, they seem quite willing to look the other way as women and girls suffer emotional and physical damage.

Fortunately, Planned Parenthood is running into strong opposition from the mainstream medical community.

After conducting wide scale experiments on women and girls in Iowa, medical professionals asked the Iowa Board of Medicine to review Planned Parenthood’s “tele-med” abortion program in that state. In a highly unusual action, the Board voted 8-2 to ban the procedure outright in Iowa. Planned Parenthood is, of course, challenging that ruling in court.

18 states now prohibit the Planned Parenthood “remote control” abortion program, with Idaho on the way to becoming the next.

HB154 now heads to the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee for a hearing.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 2

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I was participating in a video conference and describing all of the issues that are before the House State Affairs Committee. Someone on the other end of the meeting said, “Wow! You get all the good stuff!” A member of State Affairs told me that it is certainly not a committee that gives you a chance to relax much. Relaxation is over-rated anyway.

There are some who want to come up with a consensus about increased funding for highways. Progress on that front is slow at best, with no clear-cut way forward. Everything that has been proposed so far has not gained much support. A new sales tax for roads bill is yet to be introduced, and may not come about at all. The main idea floating around is a one cent increase coupled with not taxing groceries coupled with eliminating the grocery tax credit coupled with a reduced income tax rate to a flat tax. That is even confusing to write about, let alone writing a bill that would cover all of those bases.

Another little non attention getter (except in local government circles) is a bill to take half of the new construction tax and give it to schools to pay off bonds and other limited uses. We are getting an earful on this one from the counties. What most people don’t know is that this is money that comes in after the levies are set and is over and above what is budgeted but can be spent without going through the normal budgeting process. It is still stuck in committee.

We are still struggling with the procurement rules of the Department of Administration. Like some other proposals I read here, I can’t seem to read them without wanting to change every sentence. When it comes to how the State asks for bids for contracts, awards them and renews or extends them, there is much room for improvement. We are told that The Department of Education, for example has about fifteen hundred contracts in existence, about half of which are active. Seems like a lot in either case.

The bills now before the full House number in the mid thirties and I sense that there are a few of those that will be taking some longer than average debates. There are still no budget bills among them, but that will change soon. As for State Affairs, we still have some interesting stuff ahead. A year without a liquor bill or two would not be normal and on that score it will be a normal year. Still to be heard is the historical racing bill and of course a little thing dubbed Constitutional Carry. And don’t leave out doing away with Daylight Savings Time from being looked at, again. I’ve been trying all weekend to get in touch with a legislator buddy in Utah to see where they are on that issue. In any event brace yourself for the change next week. It’s not one of my favorite things, or anything close to it.

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

David Ripley: The Nasty Politics of the Left

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Following the House hearing on our legislation to regulate chemical abortions in Idaho, headlines went out across America that a legislator on the panel needed instruction about female anatomy from a witness for Planned Parenthood. Ridicule ensued.

This became the public narrative of the 3-hour hearing – not the demeaning and sleazy practices of Planned Parenthood in treating sometimes-desperate women and girls who come to them for help.

Rep. Vito Barbieri certainly did not need lessons in biology from the witness. What he needed, what he was after, was an admission that killing a preborn child was not in any way similar to the various “tele-med” procedures the witness described to the panel in dismissing our concerns.

The witness evaded Rep. Barbieri’s question by offering a sarcastic response.

And suddenly the Left had the narrative they were after: A story largely concocted by the liberal feminists covering Idaho politics and driven by their desire to protect the Abortion Industry at all costs.

These activist-reporters do not want you to know what we learned in the hearing: That RU-486 kills the baby in the first stages of life by depriving it of food, water and oxygen.

These “news” outlets do not want you to know that women have died at the hands of abortionists who refuse to follow the protocols established by the FDA because they might be inconvenient or more expensive.

And they don’t want your neighbors to learn that many women and girls suffer profound trauma when they find their dead baby on the bathroom floor after being told that the life growing inside them was not really human, not really a baby. It is so much better to distract readers by creating a narrative which allows them to bully righteous legislators like Rep. Barbieri into silence. Their story carries a warning to other leaders: mess with the Abortion Industry at your own peril.

The battle with Planned Parenthood and its allies in the state media is nasty business. We ask for your prayers on behalf of those courageous leaders, like Vito Barbieri, who choose to use their public office to defend the innocent.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights Feb. 24

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I can’t remember a year in the legislature that has been anywhere near as busy as this one. This last week was jam-packed full of committee hearings, memorials, page presentations, and speeches from our two US senators. I also can’t remember a session where there are as many contentious issues as we have before us at this time.

There are several bills in the State affairs committee that are awaiting their turns for hearings that are bound to bring many to the capital for comments. Among those are historical racing, state purchasing, parental rights, constitutional carry, and open records to name a few. I am sure there will be a few things appear that we don’t know about yet.

There is an annual 4-H conference known as Know Your Government that brings young people from all over the state. We are invited to visit with them over breakfast, talk about their experiences at the capital, discuss what they have learned and what their plans are for the future. We seem to have the largest group from District 32 and they are a lot of fun to be around.

Another of our annual events is for us to honor those former members that have passed away in the previous year. It is a chance for us to reflect on their achievements and to remind us that all who have served touched the lives of many. There were eleven memorialized this year and the scary part for me is that I served with seven of them.

Our first set of pages are on their way home now and it is customary for them to do a skit for the House before they leave us. It is shocking to see how observant they are of what we do here. They portrayed our idiosyncrasies to a tee and we found it very entertaining. These are great young high school seniors that make it possible for us to do our work.

It was my thousand mile weekend and I was able to visit with many in Montpelier and Idaho Falls. The calving season has begun at home as well and we could not ask for better weather. One cattleman in Montpelier told me that the only problem with this kind of weather during calving season is that you have to catch the calves the first day or it is impossible to do. So I left that for the boys and returned to Boise. Oh well, they are better at it anyway.

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

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 »

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