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This Session's Controversial Issues

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Ethics reform, education reform, state health insurance exchanges and second amendment rights lead the pack in controversy for the 62nd Idaho Legislature. Here's the view from a Seat in the House.

The 62nd Idaho legislature is entering its second month and the House and Senate committees are beginning to see a flurry of legislative proposals ranging from veterans’ legislation to a proposal to make Idaho one of six test sites for unmanned drones.

Significant issues that will be addressed by this legislature include ethics reform, education reform, formation of a state health insurance exchange and legislation protecting our second amendment right to keep and bear arms. 

By the time this article is printed, the Idaho House of Representatives will have voted on House Resolution 2 (HR2) to revise House Rule 76 that governs ethics complaints against a House member. The resolution adopts a new procedure for “constituting a standing ethics committee and committee alternates through a confidential nomination and election process.” It also defines what constitutes an ethics violation by a member and revises the procedure for filing a complaint, the review for probable cause and the hearing process in the event the complaint appears valid. Ethics violation penalties under the resolution range from a reprimand to expulsion of the member.

There are a number of public education bills being proposed in both the House and Senate education committees. At least four of these are aimed at restricting the influence the teachers’ unions have in negotiating multi-year contracts and salaries. Supposedly, these bills have strong support from the Idaho School Board Association and school district trustees representing both small and large school board districts throughout Idaho. The intent of the legislative proposals is meant to provide more flexibility for trustees in managing budgets and addressing other critical local education issues. Most of the provisions in the various measures proposed are in reaction to the failure of the school reform propositions last election, and are an attempt to bring some of those measures back to the legislature for consideration.

Implementation of a Health Insurance Exchange is a highly controversial issue before the legislature this session. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), oftentimes referred to as Obamacare, requires the implementation of a health exchange program by either the state or the federal government. An exchange is basically a “shopping center” for people to select an insurance program that best suits their needs. 

Supposedly, a state has three options: 1) to create and maintain a state exchange, 2) to let the federal government provide and maintain the exchange and 3) to refuse to implement any exchange required under the PPACA.

Governor Otter has recommended that the Idaho legislature adopt a state implemented exchange in order to avoid a federal exchange being imposed that would increase costs and result in more federal regulation than necessary for implementation.

The third option is being supported by many. The risk with this option however, is that in the event the federal government is positioned to implement the exchange, then Idaho citizens will be required to participate in the federal exchange if they don’t presently have insurance coverage and a state exchange is not in place. Failure to have insurance or to participate under the federal exchange in the absence of insurance would result in a fine imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. 

An overwhelming amount of information is being provided to legislators by supporters and opponents of a state-run insurance exchange and the decision is going to be difficult and controversial no matter what the legislature finally decides is best for Idaho.

The majority of Idaho legislators are extremely protective of our second amendment right to keep and bear arms. As a result, there are several pieces of proposed legislation to address concerns of legislators and Idaho citizens resulting from gun control efforts that may be enacted by President Obama through executive order as a result of the school shooting in Connecticut.

Because of the number of proposed bills addressing gun legislation, the House and Senate are taking measures to manage the number of proposed bills in order to avoid duplication of efforts to address gun control issues.

I will continue to provide updates on legislative activity as we progress through the session and I encourage your input on issues important to you.

I can be reached by e mail at geskridge(at)house.idaho.gov or by phone at 1-800-626-0471. I can also be reached by regular mail at: P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038.

Thanks for reading!

George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

Tagged as:

Idaho Legislature, second amendment, A Seat in the House, Luna Laws, education reform, health insurance exchange, ethics reform

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