Wednesday, February 23, 2011

House Highlights 2/23/11

House Highlights
By Tom Loertscher

While I was growing up, it used to drive me crazy to hear some of the older generation talk about how good things used to be in days gone by. It must be my age, but I catch myself looking back to times that seemed to be less complicated. It reminds me a bit of when the phone line was put into Bone. I could tell that the contractor who was laying the cable came from a small town where there was little traffic. Whenever he would stop to check on his employees, he would stop right in the middle of the road with no thought of the heavy traffic that was going by. Since then I have often envied someone who could deal with things in a simple manner.

That doesn't seem to be the way things are going around the Statehouse these days. The issues seem to be getting tougher and the hearings in the committees are longer and more complicated. Again this week it was necessary in the House State Affairs Committee to continue a hearing for a second day. The issues were concerning union activities and after a long discussion the two bills were sent to the House floor. My hat is off to the good people of Idaho who have been coming to these committee meetings these last weeks in a calm yet passionate manner.

Being busy around this place is a very large understatement. The other day I was trying to catch up on answering some of my e-mail. It seemed like for each one I opened and read and answered two more would pop up on my screen. Floor debate on two bills, one that has been called nullification, and the other having to do with peace officers and Indian tribes each took a full day. The first bill passed the House (I voted yes) and the second failed to pass (I voted no).

There is an old saying, "May you live in interesting times," that was once thought to be a blessing but actually was given as a curse attributable to the Chinese. I can't help but think that it does apply to us one way or the other depending on your point of view. We definitely do live in interesting times, and I can't help but think after seeing some of the things that have happened over the weekend in other parts of the country, that we are fortunate once again to live in Idaho. While we are definitely having our own budget crisis this year, it is not nearly the magnitude it is in other states. I think a lot of legislators are looking for a magic bullet, but there is nothing on the horizon that looks magical at all. As my mother used to say, "The only way out of this, is through it."

The budget committee hearings are pretty much at an end and that means that once a budget number is reached that the budgets will soon be set by the committee. If all goes well, and no one knows if it will, it gives the signal that there is about a month left for the work of the legislature this year. So keep your fingers crossed. I know I will.

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