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Posts published in “Day: March 11, 2018”

Idaho Briefing – March 12

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for March 12. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

Friday night marked the end of candidate filing – for partisan and judicial offices, at least – for this year, and more than 300 candidates signed for offices at the legislative level and up. You’ll find them all in this issue.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma on March 8 sent Idaho officials, including Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, a letter rejecting the state’s plan for a “skinny” health insurance plan. Such a plan, it said, runs afoul of the Affordable Care Act.

A group of eight senators and two representatives introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that will use revenues from energy production on federal lands to help pay for the over $11 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks.

Bipartisan legislation led by Senators Mike Crapo and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and cosponsored by Senator Jim Risch, cleared the Senate today by voice vote. The measure, S.97, known as the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, would create partnerships between private-sector innovators in nuclear energy with government researchers to create the next generation of clean, advanced nuclear power.

Due to a shortage of beds in Idaho’s prisons and jails, the Idaho Department of Correction will soon move 100 more male inmates to the Karnes County Correctional Center in Karnes City, Texas.

The State Board of Education on March 2 voted to take official positions on five separate pieces of education-related legislation being considered by state lawmakers. Board members voted unanimously to support three bills and to oppose two others.

Hunters took more elk and white-tailed deer in 2017 than in 2016, but mule deer harvest was down. With a much milder winter so far, Fish and Game biologists expect the drop in mule deer harvest to be short lived as herds recover from last year’s difficult winter across Central and Southern Idaho.

The Salmon River Ranger District on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests will release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) for the Hungry Ridge Restoration project, for public review and comment.

PHOTO The two co-chairs of the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, Senator Shawn Keough (second from left) and Representative Maxine Bell (second from right) were celebrated at an event on March 9 as their panel moved toward wrapping budgeting for this session. (image/Idaho Department of Health & Welfare)

Education money laundering?

A guest article by Levi Cavenner, an educator from Canyon County. His web site is IdahosPromise.Org.

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, had tutilege from a drug cartel’s money launderer while he was drafting the school voucher bill passed by Idaho’s house last week. A cursory read of the legislation makes it painfully obvious what the proposed law really is: a money laundering scheme.

The goal of money laundering, of course, is to conceal the origin of dollars. Except, in this case, the origin of the money is painfully obvious and the purpose of the legislation is also equally so. See, here’s the deal: Article Nine, Section Five of Idaho’s Constitution makes it abundantly clear that the state cannot distribute money to sectarian entities.

And instead of having a legitimate debate about amending Idaho’s Constitution, Rep. Vander Woude has instead come up with a convoluted plan in which money will be distributed by a quasi government scholarship fund entity to pay for students to attend private schools including religious institutions.

If it doesn’t make the dental fillings in your teeth hurt to see the contortions the bill goes through to avoid actually upholding both the wording and substance of Idaho’s constitution--something, as it turns out, our legislators took an oath to protect--then you might need a trip to the dentist for a checkup.

But don’t let the law stop you. Idaho’s school voucher bill, known formally as the Guided Education Management Act, or HB 590, passed Idaho’s House last week with votes from Gem State representatives. It now heads to the Senate.

And let me be clear: If you are a supporter of the possibility of using state dollars for students to attend private institutions, then let’s have that debate on amending Idaho’s Constitution. It is a legitimate policy question that it appears the citizens of Idaho are interested in having.

But that’s not what this legislation is. It is a blatant workaround that avoids both the text and intent of Idaho’s governing document. If it doesn’t scare you that our elected representatives are actively seeking ways to avoid enforcing the foundation of Idaho’s law, then perhaps skip the dentist office in favor of a different type of hospital.

Because that’s exactly what this is. Vander Woude, at least, is honest enough to admit that this is the first step in a greater scheme to eventually have the state subsidize businesses or individuals who donate to the slush fund ... err, scholarship account, to pay for kiddos to attend private schools by providing a tax credit.

See, the state can’t provide the money directly as it would be a clear violation of the law. So instead, in a series of mental gymnastics and suspension of disbelief, the state will instead operate a laundering racket where the money, per se, didn’t come from the state. And the fund, per se, is not necessarily operated under the management of the state. So therefor they aren’t breaking the rules. Get it?

Keep in mind that no group, others than those who stand to benefit, wants this legislation. The Idaho Education Association, the Idaho School Boards Association, the Idaho Association of School Administrators, and the Idaho Board of Education all stand in opposition to the bill which is the kindle for a larger voucher based system in Idaho.

We all want to do what's best for kids. For some families, private schools provide an excellent option. But let’s not abandon both the text and intent of our state’s laws for the sake of expediency in providing that education option.