February 22, 2013
Yesterday the Senate debated S1042 for about six and a half hours. S 1042 is the Governor’s bill to establish a state-based health care exchange. Senators debated their points passionately, reasonably and with civility. I am consistently grateful to be a member of a body of legislators that is professional and respectful to each other, even when we do not agree on an issue. I will briefly share how I voted and some points I made in my floor debate. I went with my heart and voted against creating a state-based exchange. Prior to voting I shared with my colleagues that my head understands the argument in favor of creating a state-based exchange: that Idaho would manage her own exchange as opposed to defaulting to a federally run exchange. If all that that the state exchange consisted of was the state-run exchange, it might be a bit simpler. The problem is that there are many "federal mandates" that come with creating a state exchange. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is over 2,000 pages in length and the rules written so far are over 30,000 pages. After the federal mandates are all added, it feels much more like creating a state exchange is simply another way of going along with the terms of the Affordable Care Act. I used the analogy of the federal government being in a boat that has many holes in it. The bill would place a state-based exchange in a boat full of holes. This isn’t what I would want for my family and it isn’t what I want for Idaho. In my heart, I know it isn’t right. I want to thank you all for contacting me to let me know how you feel about this issue that carries many emotions with it. Not only did I vote with my heart, but based on the responses I received in my office for this issue, I’m confident I voted with a significant percentage of the people in my district as well. In Senate Transportation this week we discussed several bills:

* S1065 would Amend Idaho Code to exempt Citizen Band (CB) and amateur radio towers from being lighted, marked and painted.
* S1083 would enable specialty license plate owners to keep their plates even if the program is discontinued.
* S1081 promotes the issuance of non-expiring trailer/semi-trailer registrations and improves customer service.
* S1084 Provides remedies for road construction that blocks access or unreasonably diverts traffic from businesses. As a side note, if anyone is interested in the details of these pieces of legislation, you can find the language of the bills, as well as the minutes for the committee discussion and debates, online. The legislative website is www.legislature.idaho.gov<www.legislature.idaho.gov>. Please remember that the committee secretaries may take a week or so after the meeting takes place to finalize the committee’s minutes.

In Senate State Affairs we had a busy week. We discussed four gubernatorial appointments, printed bills and took up S 1074, relating to the License to Retail Liquor Act to revise a provision for the issuance of a license for an equestrian facility. We also heard a presentation from the Director of the Department of Environment Quality on vehicle emission testing.
Wednesday was an important day for Idaho in the Senate State Affairs Committee as we heard two pieces of legislation that I sponsored, brought by the Association of Idaho Cities, Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 112, which opposes legalization of marijuana in Idaho for any purpose, and Senate Joint Memorial (SJM) 101, requesting that the federal government uphold federal drug-free policy in all states. I believe it is important for Idaho to have this discussion considering the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and in our neighboring State, Washington as well as the legalization of marijuana for medical use in neighboring Oregon. As a result of Oregon and Washington’s legalization, Idaho has seen an increase of marijuana trafficking along the routes into and out of Oregon and Washington. This is causing a huge problem for the Idaho State Police, working to keep drugs out of Idaho. Couple that with claims that Idaho has been targeted by the Marijuana Policy Project and others to become a medical marijuana state by 2014, necessitated Idaho’s law makers to bring the topic to the table for discussion. After two and half hours of heartfelt debate from both sides of the issue, the Committee voted to send SCR 112 and SJM 101 to the Senate Floor with a do-pass recommendation. The Senate will take SCR 112 and SJM 101 up for debate next week.
This week has seen some contentious and impassioned debates over issues that are very important to the future of Idaho. I want to take a moment to thank you again for your continued correspondence with me to discuss how you feel about these issues that will greatly affect the future of Idaho. I continue to read everything that comes across my desk as I believe your opinions and ideas are vitally important to the legislative process. Often, I take examples of your own experiences with legislative proposals into debate as examples of why proposals may or may not work for Idaho’s citizens. Please continue to make me aware of how Idaho’s legislative proposals affect you. You may reach me by e-mail at CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov<mailto:CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov..>, by calling my office at 208-332-1307, at my website, WWW.ChuckWinder.Com<WWW.ChuckWinder.Com> and finding me on facebook.
Senator Chuck Winder
Assistant Majority Leader
Idaho State Senate