Idaho's Crazy Law Clearinghouse: We'll pass Anything! 

To read or watch the mainstream press locally, you'd think that only a handful of new bills had been signed into law in the past few weeks--like ... um ... maybe that one that keeps cold medicine away from tweakers, and that other one that keeps the government from being able to "eminent domain" your ass into hobo-hood with no warning. But that's not the half of it ... or the tenth. Or the 38th. In his zeal to get the fudgin' fudge out of Dodge and over to whatever's waiting in Washington, D.C., our esteemed governor has signed 78 pieces of legislation into law in the last week alone, and a few of them might surprise you. For just a few instances, did you know:

• The Supreme Court of Idaho is no longer allowed to consider "Whether the sentence of death is excessive" when they are undertaking a mandatory judicial review of death penalty cases.

• People with permanent disabilities who are applying for hunting licenses (no, not people who are applying to hunt the permanently disabled) no longer have to prove their disability every single season. They only have to prove it once.

• Children with life-threatening medical conditions can now be issued free big-game hunting permits free of charge. Huh.

• Retired public employees can now keep receiving retirement benefits even if they are elected to public office after retirement. (Hear that? It's the sound of an army of decrepit Republicans getting off their Barcaloungers and telling the nurse to get some filing papers)

•Nonprofit organizations that provide free dental services to children no longer have to pay sales tax.

• Long-term patients of state hospitals, state schools and state veterans homes can now fish without having to get a permit.

• Horse racetracks that offer simulcast broadcast of horse races in other towns, and that dealt with at least $5,000,000 in wagers last year, will have to stay open for at least 46 days a year to maintain their license. For joints that did less than $5 mil, the minimum number of days is two.

• Anyone who possesses, distributes or even consumes more than 10 packages of black market cigarettes can now be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

• The cost of having a state brand inspector examine a herd of cattle has been raised from $1 per cow, to $1.25 per cow.

• Members of local governing boards who have acknowledged a conflict of interest in a certain matter, and who have "acknowledged nonparticipation" in the matter, are no longer allowed to present evidence or testify on that matter at public hearings. Good to know.

• Parole and probation officers are now allowed to arrest someone under the supervision of a "mental health court" without a warrant for probation violations, the same way they currently can for anyone under supervision of a drug court.

• The Idaho Board of Pharmacy is now allowed to pursue the dream of creating a format for electronically filed prescriptions. Now they won't even have to pick up the phone to call in their own 'scripts for that drug that cures "Daily Fatigue Syndrome."

Read the text of these and plenty of less-interesting new laws than these at www.legislature.idaho.gov.

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, March 28, 2,326 U.S. service members (including 12 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 1,823 in combat and 503 from non-combat related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 17,341. In the last week, 12 U.S. soldiers died.

Since President George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, XXXX soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 33,773 and 37,895.

Source: www.iraqbodycount.net

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $250,691,946,000Source: www.costofwar.com

--Nicholas Collias

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