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This summer in Idaho is featuring some unfortunate health headlines ranging from the plague among rodents to e. coli on the beach (at Lucky Peak park near Boise).

But the really messy story is neither of these: It concerns the Saltzer Medical Group and its relationship with St. Luke’s hospitals, and the slippery state of how modern medicine deals with big money.

The story goes back a few years and iterations. Saltzer is a consortium of physicians at Nampa – the state’s second-largest city, remember – which had a large base of customers who regularly needed hospital facilities. St. Luke’s Health System, the largest hospital organization in Idaho and based at Boise – with major facilities scattered around the metro area – bought Saltzer in 2012, in a friendly takeover. Part of the justification was that if the organizations worked more tightly together, they might be able to hold down costs.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden warned that the deal might be illegal, violating federal anti-competitiveness laws. St. Luke’s and Saltzer said the merger could be readily “unwound” if need be. That’s now being put to the test. Two levels of federal courts ordered the merger reversed, agreeing with the state (and several St. Luke’s competitors) that the mashup was anti-competitive. Now, in speaking of the un-wind, St. Luke’s attorneys were quoted as saying that what “seemed like a simple, straightforward process … has proven not to be so.”

Is everyone properly shocked . . . ?

For one thing, Saltzer isn’t now what it was: A group of what was 50 or so doctors is down in number by about a quarter, some of those departing evidently wary of getting snared in legal issues. Several specialties important to the overall group now have no practitioners. The group reached an agreement with St. Luke’s to provide those services, which has made things even more complex.

And there have been efforts afoot to sell off part or all of Saltzer to some other party.

How does all of that comport with the court’s order to, more or less, return St. Luke’s and Saltzer to where they were before their merger?

No one really knows.

There’s some talk about a court-appointed master who would have some direct authority over the situation. This might work, in theory, somewhat comparably to a trustee in a bankruptcy case. But this may be a lot more difficult for such an official to handle than would be a bankrupcty; in this case, the businesses are alive and fully functioning. Part of what has happened involved physicians quitting one employer and moving to another, or setting up independent shop. How could a master force someone to, say, continue working at Saltzer if they didn’t want to? (Not that such an effort would likely be made anyway.) Both Saltzer and St. Luke’s are active – in St. Luke’s case, you might almost say hyperactive – businesses, doing many things and making many decisions every day. Planting a special master in the middle of that could be nightmarish for everyone involved, prospectively including patients.

The legal-financial complex U.S. medicine is in may be headed for a series of smashups. Look at St Luke’s and Saltzer as a harbinger of things to come.

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As the seemingly endless chatter about how “sovereign” Idaho is continues, and another anniversary of statehood approaches, let’s look back on how it looked leading up to the moment of statehood.

You could say that Territorial Delegate Fred T. Dubois’ wire back to Boise, upon approval, to “Turn the Eagle loose!”, was more emblematic of his emotions than of what he had experienced along the way.

Idaho territory had already gone through, and narrowly evaded, a number of proposals to break it up and combine it with other jurisdictions. Idaho activists wanted to establish some legitimacy for their request, so they called for a constitutional convention to write a state constitution – which met, and drafted the constitution (albeit amended) Idaho still has. The convention had no legal authority to meet,not only because – unlike the four previous states to be admitted – Congress had not approved any such convention but also because the territorial legislature hadn’t done so either.

The convention did take care to say, in the third section of the first article, that “The state of Idaho is an inseparable part of the American Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.”

The legitimacy of the convention was only a minor problem in Congress, where a resolution approving statehood had to pass both the House and Senate. Democrats, though in the minority, were not eager to admit Idaho, since that would mean yet another Republican state (as everyone knew Idaho would be), especially after recently admitting the Republican Dakotas, Montana and Washington (as it was then).

The Idaho bills – more than one of them – reached consideration point early in 1890, at a critical juncture. Congress’ action was sure to turn on a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Davis v. Beason. Samuel Davis was a Mormon who had voted after taking the “test oath” – a territorial law requirement that the voter not adhere to certain principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – and was charged and convicted of perjury. Davis’ case before the Supreme Court was based on the idea that the test oath was unconstitutional.

Dubois, the Idaho territorial delegation who spearheaded the statehood effort, wrote to an ally in Idaho that “If their decision is adverse, of course we are done . . . I shall not ask for statehood unless we can keep the Mormons out of our politics.”

When the Supreme Court ruled against Davis, in favor of the Test Oath, the bills began to move through Congress, but amid raucous debate, a lot of it having to do with Mormons. Then a fierce debate erupted over “free silver” (a coinage question that would become much more intense in the coming decade). After anti-climactic floor votes, the admission bill was signed by President Benjamin Harrison on July 3.

Conditions were attached. For example, 3.5 million acres of the new state specifically were set aside to be used as an education endowment, and the use of them was closely regulated. The subject of how to use those Idaho lands has been back in Congress from time to time, notably in 1998 when then-Representative Mike Crapo proposed a loosening of the rules.

If it’s an immaculate sovereign conception anyone is looking for, Idaho’s isn’t it.

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus

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Try drawing a straight line through the results in the school-related election results from this week, and where it seems to land is on a season of education discontent in Idaho.

You might run into trouble trying to get a lot more specific than that – the discontent appears to bounce in several directions. But indicators of discontent were all over in last Tuesday’s elections.

As usual this time of year, a bunch of levy and bond issues were on the ballot, and as usual a good many (a lot of those supplemental levies that just maintain existing operations) passed.

But voter turnout was low (it seemed generally lower than last year) and overall support for incumbent positions seemed down. Even, for that matter, some proposals for money-saving improvements.

This year the biggest proposal, a $56.1 million bond at Idaho Falls failed, though barely. That amount alone was triple the total amount of all the school issues that passed.

A batch of school board elections wound up with striking sometimes unconventional results. In the largest school district in Idaho, West Ada, two of the three seats up for election went to outsiders. Julie Madsen, a physician, took out a board member who had served 13 years. And maybe the most interesting winner of the night was the other newcomer there, Russell Joki, a former Nampa school superintendent (and failed 2013 Meridian City Council candidate) who for years pursued a legal case against school districts charging fees to students. “School districts should not be charging fees for any part of the locally approved, endorsed, or sanctioned educational experience offered to students,” he wrote in a 2013 opinion piece. What will he do about that now as a board member?

In Caldwell, where all three board seats were decided by extremely small margins, a local tempest developed when a challenger, former Democratic legislative candidate Travis Manning, defeated an incumbent. Some area conservatives argued he should be disqualified: He’s a teacher in a neighboring school district, and associated with the teacher’s union. But Manning’s politics may have a lot to do with it too, and the dynamics of the Caldwell board may change a bit with his arrival.

Then there was the case in southeast Idaho of two small districts, North Gem and Grace (in Caribou County), which were proposed for consolidation. It would seem to make perfect sense. The districts have small populations and school attendance and a limited tax base. On top of that building renovations (especially a century-old school at Bancroft) and other costs have been pressuring taxpayers, something a merger might ease. But the voters, after seeing a good deal of local divisiveness on the question, rejected it, which means they’ll soon be faced with several difficult and expensive bond issues.

The Idaho Legislature’s actions on schools this year may have been a side factor in some of this. The legislature funded schools a little more amply than in most recent years, and that could have affected some attitudes locally.

But the common thread, in so many places, of boat-rocking is hard to miss. A fair number of voters seems to have decided they’re not happy; what they haven’t yet concluded, evidently, is what to do about it.

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus

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Now that the presidential contest has begun to fill out, some of the probabilities for Idaho’s role are filling in, though one big element remains a vast mystery.

Least mysterious is the end result next year: No matter who the Republican or Democratic party nominate for president, Idaho’s four electoral votes are a near slam dunk to go to the Republican. That much is about as certain as anything can be in Idaho politics.

The next highest probability is that Idaho’s Democrats will wind up supporting Hillary Clinton for their party’s nomination. That shouldn’t necessarily seem like a given if you recall what happened in 2008: A weak Clinton organization in Idaho was swamped by a thoroughly-organized Barack Obama crew which drew huge numbers to party caucuses and around 14,000 people to hear their candidate campaign at Boise.

One of Clinton’s big mistakes in 2008 was bypassing the smaller, and mostly Republican, states along the way to the nomination. These states contribute delegates too, and states like Idaho allowed Obama to rack up delegate totals ahead of Clinton’s, allowing him to win the nomination nationally not by knockout but by steady accretion. Several news reports indicate the Clinton campaign has learned from that experience and will not be ignoring the Idahos around the country. Clinton forces already are on the ground, and you can expect her to have most of the Idaho organization – all she needs to secure Idaho’s delegates, at least – locked down and in place by Labor Day. By the time any other contenders (Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley, for example) arrive, they may find not many resources left for them.

So much for the readily foreseeable. Now the harder question: Who will Idaho Republicans like for president?

In most past years, the answer was easy. Idaho Republicans absolutely loved Ronald Reagan, and in the last two contests their clear preference was for Mitt Romney. A laundry list of reasons for those preferences was obvious then and now. While the Republican nominee, whoever it is, will almost certainly get the state’s support in November, it’s less clear who they will prefer within this large and still-growing Republican field.

Last week, the Idaho Politics Weekly poll asked this question (it was unclear whether Republicans only were polled), and no one topped 13%. That percentage was held by the two prospects with family ties to previous Republican presidential candidates who did well in Idaho: Jeb Bush, brother of George W. and son of George H.W., and Rand Paul, son of Ron, who picked up a lot of northern Idaho support in 2012 and 2008. Scott Walker, nationally the hot Republican flavor this month, was third with eight percent, and others including Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Cristie and Ben Carson were well below that. Note too that the Bush and Paul early advantage doubtless comes in part because of the historical connections; they have yet to solidify such limited Idaho backing as they have on their own.

Where will Idaho’s preferences go? My guess at the moment would center on Rand Paul, partly because of the affection in many quarters for his father, and partly because there’s a certain type of rebellious streak in him that evokes the sense of an anti-establishment candidate like those who often appeal to Idaho Republican voters. But that sort of aura is fragile, and it could fade in the months to come. A second possibility, if he catches on enough nationally, might be Mike Huckabee. Marco Rubio will get to make a pitch when he speaks to a state Republican event this summer.

But really, Idaho’s Republican voters may be very much up for grabs.

Republican candidates did not ignore Idaho voters, in the fight for the nomination, in 2012; most of the major contenders campaigned in the Gem State. Don’t be surprised if that happens again.

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Idaho Idaho column Stapilus

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Just a few thoughts this evening – more tomorrow – in looking at the Northwest results. (As is our wont, we’ll leave most of the national commentary to other places.)

Talking to a caller early today, I remarked that I didn’t see many surprises and didn’t expect a lot of change in Northwest politics. With most of the results in, I see no need to change that. While control of the U.S. Senate will change some pictures for the Senate delegation, the in-Northwest political scene changed remarkably little.

Every incumbent member of Congress in the Northwest was re-elected, and not only that, re-elected easily, mostly in landslides, Democrats and Republicans alike.

The two governors up for elections, Democrat John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Republican Butch Otter of Idaho, both under heavily assault in this campaign, won re-election, to a fourth and third term respectively.

The most interesting of the congressional races, in Washington’s 4th district, pitted two Republicans against each other, Tea Party activist Clint Didier against the more mainstream former legislator Dan Newhouse. Newhouse, who had the endorsement of the incumbent (Doc Hastings), won, narrowly, tempering the tone of the state’s House delegation a smidge.

Washington’s legislature looks likely to be split again in the term ahead – the key indicators being the Tim Sheldon and Mark Miloscia – but at least one ballot issue showed no turn away from left-activism by the electorate: The decisive win in favor of expanding background checks for gun purchases. And you can match that up against Oregon’s vote in fabor of joining Washington (and Colorado) in the crop of states seeking to legalize marijuana, keeping the issue from remaining a two-state experiment.

A surprising number of Idaho Democrats pulled together scenarios for possible Democratic wins, up to and including the governorship. My take, on radio and elsewhere, was that Democrats had a small edge to win the superintendent of public instruction job, weren’t favored but could come close for secretary of state, and would be unlikely to win elsewhere among major offices. Some horn tooting, then: Democrat Jana Jones may have won for superintendent (just as this is written, the vote is a dead heat – we’ll know more later), Democrat Holli Woodings has a decent percentage but still is losing for secretary, and no other Democrats were coming close.

My call, though, for most significant Idaho election of the night – assuming that later returns uphold the early – is in a House seat in District 15, a west-Boise district held easily for decades by Republicans, but essential to a breakthrough into the suburbs if Democrats are ever going to gain significantly in Idaho. Those early results showed Democrat Steve Berch, who has run for the House twice before (two years ago in this district) defeating well-established incumbent Republican Lynn Luker. The other two incumbent Republicans in 15 also were on the razor’s edge, and could go either way tomorrow. A decade from now, these votes in District 15 may be seen as the most significant event – as regards change – in this election year in Idaho. [UPDATE: Late results did change the totals significantly in the District 15 races, giving the three Republicans there wins; so this year was not the year it turned. But the district still is showing itself as closely competitive, and a Democratic win there in an upcoming cycle clearly is not out of reach.]

But in the main, and for the next couple of years . . . for all the discontent that seems to be out there, people in the Northwest mostly voted for more of the same.

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While such factors as immigration and Democratic crossover may have slightly padded the stunning Tuesday primary loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, some of the most careful analysis of the loss seems to point to something else: The feeling that Cantor had lost touch with his district.

There was the sense that he wasn’t back home much, that he was always on the tube or in DC, and that when he did show up he was surrounded by a heavily armed security detail. How would an average citizen get a word with him?

Compare that to standard practice in, say, Oregon, where elected officials routinely visit back home and are quite accessible when they do.

But then, the idea of rising a little too high in Washington and losing that local connection is not a strange concept in the Northwest. Decades ago, Oregon Representative Al Ullman had risen to a position of real power in the House only to be taken out back home when people saw he wasn’t getting back to the district very often. In 1994, people in eastern Washington had some of the same view – probably with less justification – about Tom Foley, then the House speaker. And he too lost.

As it happens, the current Republican representatives in each of those same districts, Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington and Greg Walden in Oregon, are in House leadership right now, albeit at a lower and less visible level than Foley – or Cantor. Either of them might be a plausible contender for Cantor’s leadership post, from which he is planning to resign this summer.

Indications are that they aren’t going for it. Walden hasn’t had a lot to say about the situation, and McMorris Rodgers seems to have swept aside the idea of what’s now looking like a crowded race for the number two job in the House.

They may be wise to take that attitude. Both have what look like secure seats at conditions stand. But sometimes the risk increases as you fly closer to the sun, and they may be well aware of that.

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If James Kelly and Brett Wilcox succeed in getting their top-two primary proposal on to the ballot, I sure wouldn’t bet against it passing. (See the Oregonian article out today on this.)

Part of the reason is that anyone who isn’t a registered Republican or Democrat automatically would have a reason to vote for it: It would give them meaningful entre into a bunch of primary races they’re now closed off from. And while 20 years ago the number of non-major party registered voters in Oregon was roughly about half the number of Republican or of Democrats, they’re now more numerous than Republicans and not far off from Democrats.

(I’ll admit to some bias here, being a longtime shut-out NAV registrant. I know I could register opportunistically to vote in either party’s primary and then switch back, but that sort of thing just doesn’t feel very honest to me.)

That’s a huge voting block of about a third of the electorate.

Plenty of major party members likely would be in favor too, though. Both parties would have increased opportunities in legislative districts and in other venues where they currently have no realistic chance of winning; general elections have no real significance in most of the state. Moreover, a larger variety of people from both parties could wind up serving, expanding the tents on both sides.

You don’t even get the sense that many of the top elected officials in place now necessarily would be much opposed to the idea.

And while the idea hasn’t exactly wonderfully reformed politics in Washington and California, it hasn’t hurt, either, and people seem happy enough with it.

This could happen.

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It’s just one small step, and the putting into practice will be the real test. But this move by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to appoint a public records ombudsman for the state is a good idea, and one his counterparts in Washington and Oregon should consider.

Idaho recently wound up, with a small group of other states, at the bottom of a survey of openness in state governments. That may or may not have been a prompt for Otter’s decision, but it underscored the need.

The problem, often enough, isn’t always Idaho’s law on public records (like many other states good in presumption but also larded with exemptions to sunshine) but in the follow-through: Agencies (certainly not all, but some) where the ingrained attitude is that the records are theirs, not the public’s. Pulling those records may be doable, but costly; if you have to go to court, the effort may not come cheap. Larger news organizations historically have been willing to do that anyway, but the public records law is not supposed to be a news media-only proposition. It is supposed to allow any member of the public to examine public records.

The new ombudsman position, filled now by attorney Callie Younger, could turn out to be a fig leaf, offering little practical help. We’ll see how it works in practice and assess accordingly. But for the moment, this looks like a show of good faith from Idaho’s governor.

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Not Northwest in scope, but it seems appropriate to mention it here anyway:

I’ve been added as a contributing writer for a new organization called BookWorks, a group set up in association with Publishers Weekly and other national organizations, to help self-publishing and small-scale publishers in the new book publishing environment. I’ll be one of three regular contributors to the group’s blog, and my first post is up there this morning.

This one happens to be about the selection of chapter titles (something I’ve worked with several authors in developing), but the subjects will vary widely as we go ahead.

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The Oregonian has been running a fine series – as of today, unfortunately, concluded – of interview pieces profiling the attitudes of various Oregonians about guns. Many of them have been enlightening and thoughtful, but a pairing of two of them shines a bright light on the most serious and distinctive gun divide we have.

Both are of young men, both proud gun owners and advocates for gun ownership. What’s different is their perspective and viewpoint underlying their attitudes.

Today’s interview was with Brian Jarvis of Dallas, 29, owner of a rifle and pistol. He grew up in a rural family where gun ownership was simply an understood part of life, and understood in a particular way: “I was raised that a person’s ownership of firearms is a provision of family for food, for security and basically to set an example for the next generation.”

That much, about his take on his world, is easier for someone from a different perspective to take, probably, than Jarvis’ view of them: “What I see is people who are afraid of guns because they were not raised to see them in the same light that I was. They see the gangster on TV shooting up a block, bullets flying everywhere. That scares the tar out of me, too, but I sense that people who don’t own guns don’t want to learn about guns, and instead of stepping out and accepting the responsibility of our world and learning about them, they would rather take the right to own a gun away.”

A mixed reaction here to this part. Jarvis overstates the eagerness of non-gun enthusiasts to “take the right to own a gun away” – no more than a sliver of people are in favor of that. He is probably correct, though, that many non-gun owners fail to take the trouble to learn more about guns before issuing pronouncements about them.

Still, on balance, a large majority of Americans probably could nod their heads in general agreement with most of Jarvis’ perspective, even if their experience and his are a little different. As far as it goes, at least, his viewpoint represents something most Americans could likely accept; it’s a mainstream view.

Here’s a second interview, of Trevor LeeJack Francois of Gresham, 18, who’s about to enter the Army. Here’s the key line from his interview:

“I feel powerful with my guns. My dad doesn’t like me keeping them in my room, but I can’t live without them. I feel lost when they are not with me. We live in a crazy world, and I guess the guns help me feel safe.”

Credit Francois this: He has opened up, and taken us to the heart of his thoughts.

Were you to deny Jarvis his firearms, he would (based on the interview we see) protest, and as argument for keeping his weapons would speak of tradition, culture, the ability to hunt for food, and some additional ability to defend himself. These points would not be hard to understand and deal with, even for people who aren’t positioned the same way he is.

Were you to do the same to Francois, you’re denying him a sense of personal power (that, presumably, he doesn’t get elsewhere), exposure in a world of life and death, real peril, and a sense of being utterly lost. Confront a person with that, and what sort of political reaction would you expect?

The divide between someone like Jarvis and someone like Francois is the really important chasm in the gun debate, It is not the line between gun owners vs. non-owners or between Second Amendment advocates vs. some supposed cadre of gun seizers. This is the proximate point at which the issue becomes hard to resolve – when it reaches not a point of disagreement over details, but a point of panic.

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Here’s one that sounds like a feel-good deal on the surface, and maybe will never be more than that … but opens the door, just a crAck, to something much larger. As John Lennon exhorted, imagine …

For-profit corporations set up under a legal framework in which they are required to operate not exclusively for the the purpose of enhancing shareholder value, but also with the requirement that recognition of the public interest and fair play with their business partners – customers, vendors, employees and others – also be a required, and demonstrable, part of the mix.

Do that – change the century-old (it isn’t much more than that) requirement that for-profits operate solely for their stockholders’ immediate financial benefit, and you could have a truly significant global game-changer.

The Oregon House Bill 2296a, which cleared the Senate 22-8 (and now goes to Governor John Kitzhaber for likely signature), doesn’t go that far. It’s a lot less ambitious, merely setting up a new kind of business structure:

Currently, legal designations for corporate and business organizations focus the duties of corporate officers on matters of financial stability and success. Businesses that wish to provide a larger community benefit under the current structure must validate these benefits in the context of the financial viability of the organization. Under HB 2296A, a company can add a social or environmental benefit as a key mission of the business in addition to profit.

“By establishing benefit companies, we can attract new businesses to Oregon that focus on serving the greater good while providing a real economic value to owners, employees, and communities,” said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum. “Today’s vote is a step towards making Oregon a true leader in a new economy that encourages more businesses to pursue more than just profit.”

HB 2296A allows companies of varying size to adopt the benefit company designation, and requires these companies to compile an annual report about the social or environmental benefits provided by the organization.

It’s a small step. But who knows where it might lead?

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On of the advantages of watching the whole Northwest region is the exposure to a range of arguments – and when it comes to Congress, exposure to not just what one side side, and one member, has to say about something, but counterpoints as well. People who stay in the news silos of their states often miss that: They hear their membetr of Congress but often get only a piece of the story.

With that in mind: H.R. 1406, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, which on May 8 passed the house with a final vote of 223-204. Briefly, it restructures a piece of employment law allowing more flexibility for use of compensatory (“comp”) time off in countering for overtime work, instead of simply requiring overtime pay, which most typically is paid at time-and-a-half.

I have some sympathy for the idea.

Years ago, working as a newspaper reporter, I worked erratic schedules covering news events, night meetings, traveling various places. Strictly, I should have been paid overtime on a number of occasions when I wasn’t, but what happened in some cases – when the boss and I worked it out – was that my schedule was quietly adjusted and in effect I’d take comp time instead. It wasn’t abuse; arrived at through joint agreement, it worked better for me and for my newspaper. On occasion, we’d hear about a regulator cracking down on such practices, and so have to avoid it for a time. But I long considered it unnecessary and counterproductive regulation of something my employer and I were, left alone, pretty well able to use to mutual benefit. Sometimes the comp time was a better answer for me, as well as for the newspaper, than the overtime. Of course, circumstances varied; sometimes I wanted the overtime. We worked it out.

So when 1406 emerged, I wasn’t altogether unsympathetic. And as Idaho Representative Mike Simpson, who voted in favor, explained it, it sounds pretty good: “It can be very difficult to balance the needs of family and work. H.R. 1406 offers individuals an opportunity to meet family obligations by choosing paid time off as compensation rather than overtime hours. This is a decision that should be made between employers and employees; the federal government should not be an impediment to those who seek flexibility.”

(You can follo the link for an extended argument in favor of the bill.)

So what on earth could those 204 House members voting in opposition have been thinking?

One of the 204 was Oregon Representative Suzanne Bonamici, who called a it “more work, less pay” bill. Here’s her argument:

“If this bill becomes law, a single mom living paycheck to paycheck could work more than 40 hours a week and receive no overtime pay in her paycheck. She still has to pay the babysitter for the extra hours on the job, and she has no guarantee that she’ll be able to take ’comp’ time off when she needs it. She would have to accept the days off her employer offers, or else wait up to a year to receive the pay that’s rightfully hers.”

Although the legislation provides employees with the option of choosing overtime pay instead of comp time, the bill lacks any provisions to accommodate a worker’s schedule. Bonamici and others also argued this would allow employers to offer overtime hours only to employees more likely to choose comp time, closing off an important income stream to working families.

Bonamici highlighted a flawed provision of the bill that allows employers to delay overtime pay for up to a year with no requirement that the pay be placed in an interest-bearing account. When the bill was considered by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Bonamici offered an amendment to require that pay be escrowed and later paid with interest, but her amendment was defeated.

Add all the pieces together, and you get a bill that in basic concept might have had some real merit, but was by the time it hit the floor a bill designed (the protestations of employmee protection, which seem thin, notwithstanding) to give employers considerably greater clout than they have already in this time of a horrendous job market.

Paying attention to the details means looking at more than one side of issues like this.

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