Idaho Examiner -
Idaho Rep. Tom Loertscher

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

House Highlights - Week Four 2006

By Tom Loertscher

Sometimes I think we should hand out special awards in the House because some very interesting and noteworthy things happen around here. We could do this on a weekly basis, or maybe just when something deserving comes along. This week had several of those occurrences that deserve awards.

The “Citizen’s Outstanding Testimony Before A Committee Award” would have to be given to an individual who testified in favor of the Marriage Amendment before the State Affairs Committee. The hearing lasted for about an hour and a half with thirty eight people testifying. All of those who came before the committee on both sides were very respectful and conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion. The award winner however, was a lady who lives in Twin Falls that immigrated to the United States from Bulgaria. She explained that she was born and raised under communism. She told the committee that marriage was about the only thing that survived communism and further that marriage was what helped her family survive. I voted for the amendment which now goes to the full House for a vote.

Every session there are a number of presentations before most committees on a variety of subjects. Some are to report the activities of the agencies and explain new programs and efforts they are undertaking. Others are given to provide a knowledge base for national concerns and federal programs. The “Power Point Excellence Award” for the session (so far at least) goes to a gentleman from the Department of Energy Counterintelligence. His slide and video presentation gave those present some insight as to the magnitude and threat of terrorism around the world. He showed several not too well published attacks that have taken place over a number of years and others that were foiled due to vigilance of our people. It was an eye opener, something that every American should see.

The “Trust Me Award” goes to the Department of Health and Welfare for poorly written Assisted Living Rules. When the members of the House Committee tried to corner them on an ambiguous or unclear passage, the agency operatives just said, “Trust me, we will be reasonable.” Or “Trust me, we’ll never misuse the rule no matter what it says.” I however think that words mean things. At the same committee meeting the “Marathon Meeting Award” is deserved by the House Health And Welfare Committee for seven grueling hours Thursday afternoon and evening. I was told once that a meeting should not last more than ninety minutes, but whoever said that was not acquainted with the legislative process. Or better yet it is said that the task usually expands to fill the time allotted. This was one of those times.

The “After Hours Activity Award” for the week would be a tie this year, for two completely different reasons. First was the Farm Bureau reception for legislators where we get to mingle with folks from home and visit with them about the issues that concern them. The other activity was just an evening of fun at the local indoor go-cart racing arena. Of particular interest were two legislators that (who shall remain almost nameless) you would expect to have better driving habits. The track operators had to give a lecture to some prominent individuals, and quite frankly they needed the instruction.

This whole legislative session is quite unique, as they all are by the way. Each session seems to take on a character of its own. This one will get an award for sure, but I don’t know how to name an award like this one. In talking to others about what is happening to this point, we can not recall a session after four weeks that had a Friday with no bills on the Third Reading Calendar, notwithstanding there have been more bills printed to this point in the session than ever before. I’ll have to give the name some thought. There is an awful lot on our plates, issues to resolve and budgets to put in place. It reminds me of the farmer who entered his young son’s bedroom at 5:30 AM on Monday morning and said, “Get up, the day after tomorrow is Wednesday, the week is half over and we haven’t done a thing.”

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