By Tom Loertscher
By Tom Loertscher
It's what I call the extension cord dilemma. I think you know what I mean when you throw an extension cord in the back of your pickup, the next time you take it out it is in such a tangle that it takes you half an hour to get it straightened out. There is no way on earth that you could ever tangle a cord up that badly if you did it on purpose. That is sort of what happened around the halls the legislature this last week.
How could it be possible for three committees of the legislature to schedule what will probably go down in at least recent history, as the three largest hearings ever to take place at the capital. I can assure you that it was not orchestrated by any of the committee chairs. The House State Affairs Committee hearing on what has been called the nullification bill lasted for two days, Wednesday and Thursday. The House Judiciary and Rules Committee had a very long hearing Wednesday afternoon that dealt with law enforcement on tribal lands. Also, as you may have heard, on three consecutive days the Senate Education Committee had very long days of hearings on Superintendent Luna's education reform bills. All in all it proved to be quite a week.
You may be curious as to what my thinking is on House Bill 117 which is the bill that directs our state agencies not to further implement the Affordable Health Care Act. During the last session of the legislature we authorized and directed our Attorney General to file suit in an effort to have the national health care bill declared unconstitutional. Our suit was consolidated with that of twenty-five other states and the case was tried in the state of Florida. With the ruling on our case that declared the law to be unconstitutional, it only makes sense that we should not move forward in implementing it. I think if we moved ahead with implementing the law that we could very well be in contempt of court. At least it seems like it is not reasonable to continue with implementation when the very judge we asked to make the decision told us that we were right, that it is unconstitutional to require every citizen to buy a certain product. House Bill 117 merely says that we are going to follow the judge's order. We expect floor debate in the House early in the week.
The volume of e-mail coming on education reform has been astonishing. There has been so much going on this past week that it has been impossible to keep up. On top of the two mornings of very long hearings, the afternoon committees have kept me busy as well. I can't remember a session where there has been so much to do all at once. In talking with some of my colleagues they are finding that the same is true for them.
This education legislation is turning out to be one of the more interesting issues I've ever seen around this place. The three days of hearings have convinced the sponsors that there are some changes that need to be made. I am thinking that we should be careful and as always the devil is in the details. I don't think there is a way that I can support mandatory online classes for kids. I think there's a better way to accomplish what we're trying to do in modernizing education in Idaho. Further I think that there has to be buy-in from all concerned, kids, parents, and teachers. No matter what we do in the legislature, if there is no buy-in, the program will face tough sledding. I am also concerned that the more regulating we do in the capital, the less innovation there is in the classroom. Stay tuned for the changes. There are likely to be a bunch.