I am sitting watching the Lions and Packers play on Thanksgiving Day. I am thankful for my wife, the support I have been shown by the Lewiston-Clarkston community, for the opportunities I have had for multiple jobs and for Aaron Rodgers (the Green Bay quarterback, I grew up in Wisconsin). Things are stating to heat up in preparation for the session, so here is what I know.
Just when you thought that things were settled by the 6-0 vote of the Redistricting Commission, there is now new questions. One lawsuit objecting to the Legislative map has been filed by the Twwin Falls commissioner, and another is being prepared by attorneys for the Commissioners of Idaho County, Kootenai County and others. They appear to want the map that was proposed by the Republican commissioners but rejected by the first Commission. It appears that they want the Supreme Court to override the constitutionally created Commission and accept the Republican position. And the attorney handling that challenge is the same one that sued to close Idaho primary elections.I don’t know the results of the challenges, but I do know that the session is rapidly approaching and the delay in settling the districts will be a distraction (at best) and make it tough to find candidates to file for the 2012 elections.
Interim Budget News
Early discussions show that for the first time in several years the protected revenue will be adequate to cover budget. There even may be an excess of revenues over budget (I refuse to call it a surplus because a surplus is what is left over after necessary expenses are met, and we haven’t budgeted for necessary services). As I mentioned earlier, one of the big questions of the session will be what to do with the excess revenue. Some will go to education, and I expect some will go to replenishing reserves. I have asked for a consideration of substance abuse treatment and mental health services, as I am hearing about serious problems in both of those areas due to budget cuts.
Idaho Energy Plan
The Legislative Interim committee on Energy and Technology reviewed the Idaho Energy Plan which is supposed to guide policy development and public energy decisions over the next five years. I was somewhat disappointed in the reduction of support for consumer rights with regards to resolution of complaints and the seeming reduction of emphasis on conservation and renewable energy production. But the restated plan seems to represent the current majority party opinion here in Idaho. Here are some articles on the plan.From Betsy Russell’s Blog here
Health care issues continue to be prominent. The Governor has applied for federal money to create an insurance exchange, Idaho Medicaid has begun the transition to managed care (what ever that is here in Idaho), and the Supreme Court has scheduled the hearing on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the cost of healthcare and health insurance continues to climb. No matter what happens in the Court, I believe that the organization and delivery of health care is changing, driven by the cost of care. As a JFAC chairman once said, arithmetic always wins. I might add to that that demography and arithmetic always win. Eventually.
How not to Govern…..
Like most Americans, I am dismayed by the failure of Congress to be able to compromise and reach a deal on current and future spending. Opinions are just that, opinions, And personal opinions (no taxes ever, no cuts to entitlements ever) do not make for governance for the common good. I hope that saner heads prevail. But listening to campaign rhetoric so far, I am not optimistic.
Out and about town
I have been busy meeting with community groups and with town hall meetings. And interim committee meetings in Boise. The session starts the first part of January, and if there is a group that wants tto talk about the State government or the Legislature, please let me know.Kay and I hope you have a Great Thanksgiving (I am half way there, the Packers won). Let me know if there is something I should be doing