Friday, January 29, 2010

Far-reaching Anti-Immigrant Bill Introduced

Posted by on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 9:38 AM

The Senate State Affairs Committee this morning has agreed to hearings on a far-reaching bill that cracks down on employment, licensing and public services to undocumented immigrants in Idaho. The bill is being sponsored by Sen. Mike Jorgenson, who brings similar legislation almost every year.

Jorgenson got his bill this year from Kris Kobach and his law school class at The University of Missouri - Kansas. Kobach, who worked for former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and was recently profiled in the New York Times, is on a crusade to fight illegal immigration at the local level. According to the New York Times, Kobach is partially paid by the legal arm of FAIR, a well-known anti-immigration group.

Jorgenson's bill, according to the print hearing this morning, would prohibit Idaho employers from hiring people illegally in the U.S., negate driver's licenses issued to "aliens" in other states, limit Idaho's driver's test to English only, reinforce the E-Verify system for checking work documents and make "sanctuary cities" in Idaho ineligible for state grants.

Senators questioned Jorgenson's fiscal note pointing out that many state agencies and local jurisdictions would be swept up in enforcing the measure. Jorgenson cited a figure from FAIR that without this bill, Idaho will pay out $148 million in services to undocumented immigrants this year and asserted that he believes it will be closer to $200 million.

There was no discussion of the contribution of illegal workers to the economy or to the state coffers.

The committee agreed to print the bill and hold a hearing.

The Canyon County delegation, three Republican senators, have also introduced SB 1271, which provides increased penalties for using or accepting false documentation in obtaining work.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Partisan Health Care Reform Opt Out Passes Committee

Posted by on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 4:19 PM

A bill officially dubbed the Idaho Health Freedom Act promises a court challenge to any federal effort to mandate health coverage by barring state officials from enforcing health insurance coverage mandates.

Rep. Jim Clark's bill, with urging from both Tea Party and state GOP players, would empower the Idaho Attorney General's Office to fight national health-coverage mandates on a state's right basis.

“Citizens should have the right to pay directly for health-care services with their own money,” Clark told the House State Affairs Committee this morning.

The bill, HB 391, could cost up to $100,000 for an extra attorney, which Clark indicated was a small price to pay: “I think our rights are even worth more than $100,000 per year … so it could cost us that," Clark said.


Listen to committee debate on the bill.

While the bill certainly applies to personal and business insurance coverage mandates, Clark indicated it would make a single-payer system unconstitutional as well.

“Single-payer systems like in Canada make it illegal for citizens to go outside of the government health-care plan and contract for their own medical services. House Bill 391 will make this fundamental provision of single-payer health care unconstitutional,” he testified.

Besides the fact that Canadians can choose to buy private health care, single-payer advocates also oppose personal mandates.

“Single payer is not a mandate, basically it’s Medicare for everybody,” said Lou Schlickman, a Meridian physician and single-payer advocate. “We’re not into the mandate plan at all ... because when the government says, 'here take this government handout and use it to buy private health insurance,' that’s one step closer to Fascism.”

A single-payer plan would eliminate the need to pay for private insurance by providing a Medicare-like plan to everyone, but an American version would almost surly allow Idahoans to buy any supplemental insurance they'd like with their own money.

Would the Health Freedom Act apply to such a system? The answer is that it does not matter, because the bill and the response from Democrats is a political, not a policy statement.

Idaho GOP Executive Director Jonathan Parker testified that the State Central Committee unanimously supported the concept earlier in the month, including opposition to mandatory immunizations. The bill was co-sponsored by two fellow Republicans: First Congressional District candidate Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Lynn Luker.

The five Democrats on the committee voted against the bill, even though mandates for coverage can be easily understood as an Obama administration handout to insurance companies.

Boise Rep. Phylis King argued that something needs to be done about health-care costs in the United States; she objected to the references to sovereignty and states rights that are littered throughout the bill.

“By the way, last I looked, Idaho is a part of this nation,” King reminded the State Affairs Committee. “We need to work with the federal government because this needs to be a nationwide solution and we can’t just say no to everything. Sovereignty is no and I want to say yes to a better life for our citizens, and this is not the way to go.”

UPDATE: Interesting read at The Political Game about the compulsory health coverage that Idaho already mandates ...

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Birds of a Feather: JFAC May Not Vote on Phase Out

Posted by on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Eve Chandler and Roger Grigg of the Friends of Idaho Public Television board.
  • Eve Chandler and Roger Grigg of the Friends of Idaho Public Television board.
Friends of Idaho Public Television filled the pews at the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee this morning sporting oversized nametags complete with a pair of yellow feathers, to indicate support for Big Bird.

IdahoPTV General Manager Peter Morrill laid out his succinct case for maintaining state support for the station, emphasizing that without state funding it would not be able to maintain 41 of its 42 rural transmitters (the Lewiston transmitter could potentially be supported). Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has recommended a four-year phase out of state funding for the station (currently at $1,659,800 despite the various rounded numbers you might read elsewhere at boiseweekly.com). But JFAC co-chairman Sen. Dean Cameron, a Rupert Republican, indicated after the meeting that the committee may not vote to support IdahoPTV phase out, or the phasing out of five other small commissions that Otter placed on the chopping block.

"You may see this committee not taking a stand on the phase out," Cameron said. "All of us are in support of public television, all of us want to see public television continue."


Where the hell is Rogerson?Sen. Bert Brackett, a Republican from Rogerson, after criticizing the Idaho Reports program for perceived self-promotion, told citydesk that he has gotten a flood of e-mails from public-television supporters, first from Boise and now from within his large, rural district.

Brackett said he's not a regular viewer, but saw a legislator on the show advocating for continued public television funding.

"It's not appropriate for them to use state funds to fund their cheerleading effort," Brackett said.

IdahoPTV has been cautious in covering its own legislative adventure, and several public television officials said they did not recall the episode to which Brackett referred.

Morrill made the point that Idaho has no statewide newspaper, no state radio or commercial television and is the statewide provider for the emergency alert service, for which they have an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He also shared numbers with the committee:

14,000 people logged onto Legislature Live during the first week of the session to watch parliamentary debate, including 7,578 to the budget committee hearings. That's alot. And last year, IdahoPTV provided 13,000 hours of children's programming, Morrill said.

Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Terreton Republican, questioned whether the station could attract commercials or other large grants.

Morrill responded that they cannot sell airtime or use state equipment to make ads for private companies (though they do pump major corporate sponsors, following recently loosened FCC rules) and that, yes, they apply for every possible grant they might qualify for.

Earlier in the day, the budget committee accepted a report from the Legislature's revenue setting committee, but declined to accept the numbers. Cameron said they'd wait to see what January revenues look like before setting a budget target.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Freedom Foundation Reporters Denied Press Credentials

Posted by on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Last week, two reporters from Idahoreporter.com, a brand new news portal owned by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, petitioned to join the Capital Correspondents Association. They were denied press credentials, a move upheld by the unanimous vote of the members of the association.

The Capitol Correspondents Association is the association of reporters and media affiliates credentialed to cover 6the Legislature. They are stationed in a press room—formerly called the pit, but now on the Garden Level of the newly renovated Idaho State Capitol. Membership provides for press access to the floor of the House and Senate, as well as to hearing rooms and the association serves to provide a unified voice for reporters who cover the Legislature.

IFF is a free market think tank run by Wayne Hoffman, a registered lobbyist. According to its mission statement, IFF is a non-profit “that develops and advocates the principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, private property rights, economic freedom, and limited government.”

The correspondents were asked to allow Dustin Hurst and Brad Iverson-Long, the Freedom Foundation's two reporters, entrance into the association. Being a member of the CCA means access to the press room in the Capitol, use of press tables in committee rooms and on the House and Senate floors, and the ability to wear the brown press badges around the building.

The standing committee of the association and its president, Betsy Russell, had already informed Hoffman that his reporters did not meet the standard for inclusion in the association.

The bylaws of the association stipulate the definition of an eligible correspondent:

Article 3: Definitions
(1)For purposes of this Association, a “news organization” is a general circulation newspaper, web outlet, radio station, or television station, or a network or syndicate that has a contractual agreement with a general circulation newspaper, web outlet, radio station or television stations to provide regular coverage of the Idaho Legislature and state government.

(2)For purposes of this Association, a “news organization” is not one that produces for or by an organization with membership requirements, or one that produces for or by an organization that exists to advocate, lobby or otherwise influence legislative, executive or judicial decisions.

(3) For purposes of the Association, a “correspondent” includes reporters, photographers, videographers, and other individuals employed by a news organization whose task is to cover the Idaho State Legislature.

Russell of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, gave the Idaho Reporter team a chance to plead their case in a meeting on Friday, but the association’s members upheld the ruling that idahoreporter.com fell under the category of advocacy, rather than news.

“This is not a value judgment about the quality of anybody’s reporting or anything like that," Russell said. "It is simply a matter of what constitutes a news organization, and under our bylaws, an advocacy organization is not a news organization.”

Russell said she is glad more people are covering the Legislature and that not being part of the Capitol Correspondents in no way hampers anyone's right to work at or cover the capitol: they just can't wear a brown tag or use the press pit.

Hurst and Iverson-Long have been producing daily reports on state politics from the Statehouse, including video clips and an active Twitter feed.

Wayne Hoffman, a former reporter himself, had this to say about the decision:

“Reporters are still going to go out and do quality journalism, regardless of the decision of the Capitol Correspondents Association. No, I don’t [agree with the decision]. My understanding is the decision was made based on the fact that the Idaho Freedom Foundation is the owner of the Idahoreporter.com product. As far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter who owns the news outlet, as long as they're abiding by the standards of good journalism ... I'm not involved in day-to-day news operations. I might offer my insight, having covered the Legislature. I never know what stories are going to be on there because I leave it to them to cover the stories of the day.”

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Idaho Air Guard Soldiers Delayed in Trip to Haiti

Posted by on Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 2:22 PM

air_guard.jpg
A group of civil engineers with the Idaho Air National Guard was prepared to leave for Haiti this morning, but all but one have been delayed in their deployment, according to Lt. Col. Timothy Marsano, a public affairs officer with the Guard.

Though one Idaho airman is on his way to Haiti, via Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, the rest are delayed until the equipment they were to use arrives on the island, Marsano said.

The 124th Civil Engineering Squadron will work on infrastructure to support troops already on the ground in Haiti; tents, power, sanitation, water and refrigeration. But Marsano said the logistical situation is still in flux and it could be Feb. 10 before the rest of of the squadron ships out.

The Pentagon requested 18 engineers from the squadron, but Marsano said 40 volunteered to go.

“We were going to send 18, no matter what, whether they volunteer or whether we mandate that they go,” Marsano said. “Over 40 people raised their hands.”

The United States has about 15,000 troops in and around Haiti now, according to Jose Ruiz, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command. Most are stationed on ships in the waters around the island, but about 4,400 are on the island, Ruiz said, and according to the Christian Science Monitor, many may be there for the long haul.

There has been some criticism of the troop levels, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lashed out at critics today.

More Haiti news now in BW world news.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Boise Tea Bagger Cameo in Captain America Comic

Posted by on Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 4:05 PM

The March 2010 issue of Captain America, called "Two Americas," starts out with a police raid on a Boise Foothills home, where an impostor Captain America is gathering up an underground army of Tea Party-like anti-government forces.

Marvel Comics 602: A house in the Boise Foothills
  • Captain America 602: A house in the Boise Foothills

William Burnside, who in the 1950s became obsessed with the New Deal American Hero, to the point of impersonating him, returns to find his childhood home in Boise replaced by a vacant strip mall.

"And now he was finally home ... but not to a hero's welcome," the strip reads. "No, this country had turned its back on him long ago."

Burnside, posing as the Captain, gathers groups of angry white truckers and returned soldiers in his compound. "Honest, hard-working Americans ... ready and able to rise up and fight back," as the strip describes. They march on downtown Boise (depicted below) and throw an African American secret agent posing as the Tax Man out of a bar, calling him Obama (with some degree of agent provocateur meddling from an undercover REAL Captain America).

Marvel Comics 602
  • March on Boise: Look familiar?

Find the best sign (hint Medicare is government health care)
  • Find the best sign (hint Medicare is government health care)

They even have the real undercover Captain posing as a Tea bagger refuse free beer (no handouts, no charity, man) after throwing the faux tax collector out of the bar:

I dont want your free beer. What?
  • I don't want your free beer ... What?

The strip acknowledges that Idaho ain't DC, but implies that the hinterlands are fraught with anti-government forces bent on insurrection. The cliffhanger ending leaves open the possibility that the real American patriot, Captain America himself, may swoop in and hand these impostor patriots a large can of whoop ass.

It's enough to make a guy want to read the comics again.

You can get the book at:

Captain Comics
www.captain-comics.com
710 S Vista Ave

Paper Back Place
7011 W Fairview Ave

Outpost 12
3890 W. State

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Defunded IdahoPTV Would Cut Legislature Live as Well

Posted by on Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Idaho Public Television has been an institution in this state since 1965. Beginning in Moscow, the organization has expanded over 40 years to reach 97 percent of Idahoans, according to its Web site. Their programming has been able to reach into even the more isolated, rural communities of the Gem State.

Peter Morrill, the general manager of the station, is concerned about the agency’s ability to continue that statewide pursuit. With Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s recommendation to phase IdahoPTV out of the general fund, Morrill views this “of great concern” to his organization.

“First of all, we are a state organization. We receive approximately $1.6 million from the state of Idaho which makes up roughly 25% of our budget. The state funds that have come to us have been used to maintain the state-wide broadcast system,” Morrill tells citydesk.

Morrill feels that if this extra money to subsidize the broadcast system doesn’t come from the state, it’s likely that it won’t be available from other sources.

“Our initial projections are if we were to lose the funds, we would really have to pull back those state-wide systems. Virtually all of the repeater programs in the rural areas would not really be supportable without some form of subsidization,” he said.

A group has already sprung up that's attempting to voice their dissatisfaction with the state cuts to public television . "Save Idaho Public Television" prompts fans of the organizations programs to contact their legislators to say "don't kill Idaho Television" and to join their 2,600 strong Facebook group as well.

IdahoPTV might also have to cut the Legislature Live service that beams video of committee and House and Senate proceedings throughout the Capitol building and over the Web. As Morrill cites the need for state funding to offset the $30,000 rent in the Joe R. Williams Building, where the infrastructure is housed, and the $105,000 staff costs.

"That would be one of the services, that if we lost state support, I’m not seeing where the resources would come to continue that service," said Morrill.

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Where in the World is Pete?

Posted by on Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Postcard from Pete in Amsterdam
  • Postcard from Pete in Amsterdam

Idaho guber-natorial candidate Pete Peterson is taking a break from his campaigning to tour London and Amsterdam where he is purportedly playing second rate comedy clubs. BW received the postcard above from Pete, who told us before New Year's that he was suspending his campaign, but then had a change of heart and now thinks that he can actually "beat Butch" as his slogan says.

We still are not sure how much of Pete's race is a joke and how much is serious, but we like it. Keep the postcards coming, Pete.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seniors to Legislature: 1-800-Find-Some-Cash

Posted by on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 5:32 PM

The AARP of Idaho (the group formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons), is calling on the governor and the Idaho Legislature to not make stark cuts to services, particularly at the Department of Health and Welfare and the Commission on Aging.

"AARP is warning legislators and the Governor of the dire effects of the proposed cuts and is sending them a simple message: Don’t balance the budget on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable residents," the group's press release said.

The group has set up a budget hot line to connect older Idahoans to their legislators: 1-800-232-0581. Just enter your zip code and they'll connect you to your delegation. (It's not exact—some zip codes span legislative districts.)

AARP has 180,000 members in Idaho, according to spokesman Dave Irwin. That's more than half of the over 50 population of the state, a group that is nearly all registered to vote and 75 percent of whom vote in every election.

Surely the Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter and the Legislature—most of which fits the same demographic—is aware of that voting block. In fact, the Commission on the Aging is one of the few agencies spared Otter's budget euthanasia plan—seven other commissions are being completely phased out under Otter's plan.

Still, AARP is not pleased with Otter's 8 percent cuts to Aging. Not that they have any suggestions for funding those services: “I’m not a legislator. They’ve been elected to office to figure out just that it’s our job as an advocacy organization to understand just what the ramifications of those cuts are going to be,” Irwin said.

The group is also irritated by the Legislature's attempts to oppose national health reform efforts before those efforts have even produced anything concrete. Irwin points out that both the House and Senate versions of the health-care bill provide more funds for Medicaid, which three days of hearings before the state budget committee have just established are greatly needed.

"We’re saying no when our most vulnerable population needs us to say yes," Irwin told citydesk.

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Prominent Idahoans Defend Human Rights Commission

Posted by on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 3:01 PM

A group of prominent Idaho citizens, including former Govs. Cecil Andrus and John Evans, Republicans and Democrats, religious leaders and a host of human rights activists have written an open letter to the Legislature defending the existence of the Idaho Human Rights Commission and "imploring" law makers to preserve it in the face of Gov. C .L. "Butch" Otter's recommendation that it be dissolved over the next four years. The letter is reproduced in full below (click on the jump to see the full list of signatories).

Forty years ago, the Idaho Legislature determined that it would be the policy of the state of Idaho to secure for every citizen basic, fundamental human rights.

The enabling legislation creating the Idaho Human Rights Commission stated the purpose directly and forcefully. The Idaho Human Rights Commission would exist:

To secure for all individuals within the state freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin or disability in connection with employment, public accommodations, and real property transactions, discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in connection with education, discrimination because of age in connection with employment, and thereby to protect their interest in personal dignity, to make available to the state their full productive capacities, to secure the state against domestic strife and unrest, to preserve the public safety, health, and general welfare, and to promote the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the state.

Now this noble charter and the work of the one of the smallest, but most important state agencies face grave danger under a proposal to phase out all state funding for the Commission. It must not be allowed to happen.

We implore the members of the Idaho Legislature to resist any initiative to reduce the effectiveness of the Commission, to diminish its already scarce resources and to send the most unwelcome and damaging message that Idaho has ceased to place human rights at the absolute forefront of the state’s priorities.

We need not remind Idaho state government that it was not that many years ago that Idaho’s image and reputation was unfairly sullied by the presence in our midst of messengers of hate and ministers of discord. Idahoan’s were united then — and must be united now — in rejecting any assault on human rights. We came together in the past to send a powerful and righteous message that Idaho would not tolerate discrimination and would not give comfort to those who deny basic human dignity to all her citizens.

The Idaho Human Rights Commission is on the absolute frontline in this continuing battle and has been for more than 40 years. For four decades, the Commission has ensured Idaho workers and employers that laws concerning discrimination will be fairly and properly applied. Even demanding economic times must not be an excuse for abandoning the principle that the state of Idaho supports this work both in word and deed.

It should be a priority of the 60th Idaho Legislature to secure for another 40 years and beyond this essential, vital function of state government.

Continue reading »

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