March 8, 2013

Monday March fourth was an exciting day at the Capitol. We celebrated Idaho’s Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln signing the act that established the Idaho Territory. The Idaho State Historical Society organized a wonderful celebration which included Shoshone Paiute Drummers, a Lincoln impersonator and others dressed in Civil War era costumes. Idaho elementary school students sang and Sherie Buckner-Webb sang America the Beautiful amid a brightly shining sun as a brisk breeze blew across the flags that hung over the top of the Capitol steps. All of these elements, along with an invocation by Father Jesus Camacho, speeches by David Leroy, Governor Otter and the Lincoln impersonator, and the benediction by Josiah Pinkham of Nez Perce Tribe, set the stage to honor Lincoln and celebrate Idaho’s history. It was certainly a memorable event.
To top off the morning, David and Nancy Leroy donated an 1863 Portrait of Lincoln from their collection to the newly renamed, "Lincoln Auditorium" in honor of the occasion. I hope that everyone in Idaho will take the time to remember Idaho’s history by taking advantage of the Idaho Historical Society’s events as part of the sesquicentennial celebration. Included among these are an exhibit at the Idaho History Museum in Julia Davis Park entitled "Essential Idaho: 150 Things that Make the Gem State Unique," open through December, The Lincoln Legacy Exhibition at the Idaho History Center on Old Penitentiary Road, and coming up next week, a lecture as part of the brown bag lecture series by Keith Brown, a State Historian. Keith will be speaking at the Washington Group Central Auditorium on "Inventing Idaho: living with 150 year old decisions." For more information, please visit the Idaho State Historical Society’s website:<>.
This week in the Senate Transportation Committee, we reviewed several pieces of legislation. Some that may be of interest include:
* H 167 Creates a consumer asset recovery fund requiring all licensed dealers to contribute to the fund. The fund will be used to help offset consumer related claims against auto dealers.
* H 169 Clarifies that legislation regarding specialty license plates is not subject to rejection or approval by ITD.
* HCR 8 States legislative findings and recognizes achievements of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD).
* H 118 Requires that aircraft in Idaho be registered with ITD, and increases aircraft registration fees.
* H 41 Clarifies when visually impaired individuals are considered competent to drive a motor vehicle.
In the Senate State Affairs Committee this week, we discussed many interesting pieces of legislation, including:
* H 55 Relating to the Idaho Telephone Solicitation Act to conform Idaho’s statute governing Idaho’s No Telephone Solicitation List to regulations governing the National Do-Not -Call Registry which has been designated as Idaho’s List.
* S 1078 Relating to the addition of a new section 33-107D, Idaho Code, to prohibit public universities from discriminating against religious student groups.
* S 1079 Relating to Internet Crimes Against Children to create a unit in the Office of the Attorney General to aid in the investigation and prosecution of offenders.
* S 1080 Relating to county prosecutors to eliminate a conflict of interest that currently exists when they are the subject of a prosecution or they are personally being investigated by moving that authority to the Idaho Attorney General.
* H 107 Relating to Absentee Voting to provide alternative procedures for absentee and early voting.
* S 1105 Relating to the Legislative Department to allow the Legislative Council to engage the services of a certified public accountant to conduct audits.
* S 1108 Relating to Initiatives and Referendum Elections to address the balance between urban and rural voters in qualifying initiatives or referendums for the ballot.
The Senate State Affairs Committee discussed S 1108 over a number of days in order to allow for a large number of people who wanted to testify on the bill. There was some question over whether the three education bills that passed the legislature and went before the people for a referendum vote would have qualified for the ballot under the code changes that S 1108 proposes. For that reason I would like to make a clarification that there were only three counties out of forty-four that did not have six percent or more of registered voters sign the petition for a referendum. All three referendums would have still been on the ballot by a large margin. In short, S 1108 is not an attempt to constrain the power of the people to a put legislation to a referendum, but to address the balance between urban and rural voters.
On Thursday, the House Health and Welfare Committee heard testimony for several hours and afterward passed the new bill to establish a state-based health insurance exchange. This new bill, H 248, has emerged as the result of combining components of S 1042, the Governor’s health care exchange bill previously passed by the Senate, and drafted legislation written by 16 freshman members of the House to improve upon S 1042. As a new bill, H 248 will go to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee upon passage in the House.
The legislative process can be lengthy, as the health care exchange issues is exemplifying; however, it is for good reason that our founders set up our government to review legislation in this deliberative and sometimes long process. Laws which govern the lives of people should not be made rashly, without giving careful thought to points made by colleagues, all of whom will likely be drawing from public experience and input. In regard to the issue itself, I will continue to fight to defend individual liberty for all in Idaho.
Thank you for all of your correspondence regarding issues important to you and important to Idaho. Please continue to contact me regarding your concerns and how Idaho’s legislation affects you. You can contact me by e-mailing me at CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov<mailto:CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov..>, by calling my office at 208-332-1307, by visiting my website,<> and by finding me on Facebook.
Senator Chuck Winder
Assistant Majority Leader
Idaho State Senate