It’s the time to once again start the legislative session and I find myself quite excited about being a part of this process once again. After the grueling session last time I didn’t know how I might feel this year. So much will again be happening and it is time to get something done for Idaho. Hopefully we can be successful.
While it is an election year and originally I thought not much would be going on, there seems to be a lot happening and it seems that more may be coming.
Of course, the main topic has been the insurance exchanges which with the stroke of a pen our good governor had the foresight to allow the utilization of some federal funding to pay for the set up and implementation. This is a requirement of the Affordable Care Act and while this act is being reviewed by the Supreme Court sometime later this year, Idaho must have an exchange in place or the federal government will do it for us.
It is interesting to note that the insurance industry, commerce, small and big business and most of the people of Idaho want an insurance exchange. However, it is probable that some of our legislators will be attempting to stop this process. Personal agendas again will be put ahead of what is best for Idaho. Much talk about “strings” that may be attached to federal funding. After some research I find that the Affordable Care Act stipulates what is necessary for the exchanges and once we meet that criteria we can make Idaho’s plan better. If we take no federal money, then the rules are still the same. I am sure that we will be talking more on this subject.
After two years of “low balling” the budget, our state is faced with some funds that have not been allocated and need to be distributed. Most agencies are hungry and will be looking for ways to get some of this money back. Unfortunately, our next budget will again have some excess if the trend continues. How did this happen? Our leaders decided to ignore the advice of economists and it seems that the economists were right. What did this cause? Some very deep and hurtful cuts to our education and health and welfare departments. We need to restore some of what was lost in an equitable manner.
Jobs are on the radar and the Democratic Caucus has been working over the summer to come up with a job creation package. We are putting the finishing touches on it and just that we can get some of these ideas into committee and on the floor. Jobs are the key to getting Idaho back on its feet and back to prosperous days of the past.
Another area, this one of concern, is a rumored attempt by some legislators to take the decision about drilling for oil and gas away from the local communities and place all authority with the state. This is a scary proposition as the Legislature is again taking away the rights of the local communities. We must retain local control of as much as possible as the state is not an all knowing entity.
Another item that should be discussed is ethics in government. So far all attempts to bring any ethical problem to the leadership have been squashed. Those in state government that are not ethical put a black mark on every one of us that wants to serve the people and do the best for Idaho.
I am headed for Boise with the thought to be positive and work toward better collaboration and will continue to listen to Pocatello and Bannock County and will support any legislation that improves our county, city and our citizens. Please give me your ideas, let me know your needs and I will do my utmost best to make things happen. I am thankful and proud to have been selected by you to represent District 30 and my commitment remains strong to do my very best.
Roy Lacey of Pocatello is a member of the Idaho House of Representatives.