Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Frustrating times at the Statehouse


    This session we have been informed that there would be no legislation heard on Medicaid redesign, gay rights and transportation funding, largely because the powers to be do not want votes on those issues to be factors in the closed primary in May. This is the week that frustration finally set in and the supporters of these concepts challenged that edict.  
    On Feb. 3, a peaceful demonstration by 44 individuals with their hands over their mouths blocked the entrance to the Senate Chambers. The hands were symbolic of the silencing of their right to have a bill at least introduced. They were peacefully removed and arrested. Still no hearing but a very public reminder that this is an issue that is gaining momentum, not only throughout the nation but also in Idaho.

Idaho’s transportation infrastructure has been neglected for the last five years.

    On the same day, House Minority Leader John Rusche introduced a bill that would have redesigned Medicaid to allow those working Americans earning just under 100 percent of poverty to be covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act, thereby reducing the need for most of the CAT fund of our counties. The total saving to Idaho from implementation of this bill would be in the neighborhood of $600 million. This did get a print hearing but was defeated.  
    The third HB 481, a proposal by lobbyist Skip Smyser to raise the gas tax 6 percent in 2 percent increments over the next three years was printed. He presented this bill with support from the trucking industry. I applaud both for doing what is needed and truly hope they are successful. Idaho’s transportation infrastructure has been neglected for the last five years and it is time get back to a realistic maintenance and building schedule.
    While the above was occurring, HB 427 languished in General Orders. This bizarre bill would legalize in statute the right for a professional to refuse to perform services for an individual due to sincerely held religious beliefs. This bill had the potential to discriminate on many levels if it did get printed, got a hearing and passed. Luckily, clearer heads prevailed and it was sent to General Orders, where amending can occur, or better yet, it can sit for the remainder of the session.
    Last week, advocates took steps to rebuild Medicaid in Idaho. Cuts made to the system in Idaho during the recession hit this segment of the people and those who provide the services they need extremely hard. According to Mike Ferguson, formerly the state’s chief economist, the state’s budget could well afford reinstating Medicaid programs and cuts made to others if the budget set up differently.  This would mean an effective system in all communities, one that would provide an equitable pay scale for providers so they could give quality services to meet the individual patient needs.  It is time to start to repair this safety net for more efficient and effective service.
    New information recently revealed that due to a federal investigation into the awarding of the Educational Information Network (EIN), the federal government has held up payments to the companies installing the network. More troubling is that the Department of Administration has known about this for over nine months and has sat on it.  The Legislature is now being asked to appropriate $15.5 million to keep the project moving. This project was plagued with charges of improper actions from almost the start. In fact, the current investigation may even result in all federal support being jerked.
    It is a pleasure to serve you in the Legislature. I want to know your opinions and to help you with any government-related problems you may encounter. You can reach me at (208) 308-0046 or e-mail

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.