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On Health Insurance and Gun Control

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Idaho legislature grapples with weighty issues

Legislative activity is increasing substantially as the session continues toward adjournment, hopefully by the end of March or no later than the first week of April.

Two issues receiving a lot of attention over the past few days are legislative proposals that would set up a state implemented insurance exchange and a number of gun-control related proposals in reaction to gun control advocates attempting to further restrict our second amendment right to keep and bear arms as a result of the tragic grade-school shooting in Newton, Connecticut.

As I mentioned in my last article, implementation of a Health Insurance Exchange is required under the Federal Patient and Affordable Care Act and the legislature has to decide whether to follow Governor Otter’s lead and adopt a state exchange program or let the federal government implement the exchange in Idaho. This is a controversial issue among legislators; some oppose a state implemented exchange and others support a state implemented exchange. The main consideration is whether one believes the state can implement an exchange program more beneficial to state residents or conversely that a state exchange would only be mirroring federal requirements without any real state influence on the requirements of the exchange program.

Senate Bill 1042 (S1042) is legislation implementing a state implemented health insurance exchange. The purpose of S1042 is to “establish a state-created, market-driven, health insurance exchange that will facilitate the selection and purchase of individual and small employer health benefit plans and is intended to enhance Idaho residents’ choice regarding options and access to affordable health insurance.”

S1042 passed the Senate a few days ago on a 23 to 12 vote after six hours of highly charged and emotional debate. The bill is now on the House side for consideration. However, House Bill 179 (H179) is another proposed health exchange bill that, among other considerations, provides more legislative oversight on a state exchange program than that provided under S1042. There is an attempt by Legislative leadership, some members of the legislature and the Governor’s staff to incorporate the best provisions of both bills into a new legislative proposal for consideration.

On the issue of gun control there are several pieces of legislation that are being considered; some are in draft stage and some already in the legislative process. There are three bills that I believe are of special significance to Journal readers.

House Bill 192 (H192) provides for an enhanced concealed weapon permit that will allow Idahoans to carry a concealed weapon in at least 39 other states. The permit will require additional training over that which is now required for a permit for use in just Idaho. It will require at least eight hours of face to face training that cannot be substituted by electronic instruction or other instructional means. It also includes live fire training that includes firing at least ninety-eight rounds by the student. The training also has to be conducted by an active licensed member of the Idaho State Bar or a law enforcement officer who “possesses an intermediate or higher Idaho peace officers standards and training certificate.” These requirements are only a part of the training requirements and other conditions required in the legislation before a permit is issued. 

This legislation only applies to those who want an expanded permit. Idaho citizens can still obtain a level one concealed weapons permit that is legal in Idaho but doesn’t cover the majority of other states. H192 passed the House on February 28 and is now on the Senate side for consideration.

House Bill 183 (H183) removes language in Idaho code section 50-308 that grants cities “the power to regulate, prevent and punish those who carry concealed weapons.” This legislation makes clear that only the legislature can regulate firearms. Other provisions in the code that enable the cities to maintain peace within their jurisdiction remain in force. H183 passed the House on February 28 and is now on the Senate side for consideration.

House Bill 229 (H229) provides that, among other conditions, “a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Idaho and that remains within the borders of Idaho is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, special taxation or confiscation” and that since these items have not traveled in interstate commerce they are not subject to the authority of Congress to regulate under its commerce power.”

There are additional draft pieces of legislation dealing with the gun control issue that are expected to be introduced in committee over the next few days and if accepted by the committee will become public and placed on the legislative website for those who are interested in proposed legislation. All of the work of the Idaho legislature can be followed online at www.legislature.idaho.gov

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, Obamacare, gun control, A Seat in the House, state health insurance exchange

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