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Cheers & Jeers

Corey Taule
February 15, 2013
Idaho Falls Post Register

CHEERS to a coalition of 16 House freshmen who have offered a path forward in the debate over health care exchanges. Some, including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, House Speaker Scott Bedke and President Pro Tem Brent Hill, see the wisdom in crafting a state-based exchange as required by the federal health care reform law. Others want Idaho to join a coalition of states refusing to establish a state exchange, even though that would result in the feds crafting a cookie-cutter exchange for us. Enter the 16 freshmen. They crafted their own exchange bill, to accompany legislation offered by the governor's office. It would require more legislative involvement in the governing board overseeing the state exchange, more transparency and would ensure lawmakers are made aware of fee increases or benefit changes. This is what adults do -- work to make the best of a difficult situation, a far cry from the delusional calls for nullification and the ridiculous notion that if Idaho ignores the exchange mandate, the feds will throw up their hands and retreat. This is the kind of pragmatic problem-solving Idahoans wanted when, during last year's May GOP primary, they sent the ideologues packing and elected a host of moderates. Happily, five of the 16 come from eastern Idaho. They are: Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls. Rep. Neil Anderson, R-Blackfoot. Rep. Doug Hancey, R-Rexburg. Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony. Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree. Keep up the good work, folks. JEERS to Sen. Monte Pearce, R-New Plymouth. The chairman of the Senate Resources Committee led the fight to block confirmation of Fish and Game Commissioner Joan Hurlock. Her gender, of course, had nothing to do with Pearce's opposition. And yet, after the Senate voted 19-16 to block Hurlock's confirmation, she shared this nugget with the Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker: "We're going to look like a bunch of men beating up on a young woman," Hurlock said Pearce told her. "He said if I withdrew, 'I am sure the governor could appoint you to another commission, maybe the nursing board.'" Is it possible Pearce doesn't understand that one requires certain credentials to become a nurse? You know, such as training and education? Or perhaps poor old Monte just threw the nurse thing out there because, historically, that field has been dominated by women and, well, Idaho doesn't have a scrapbooking commission or barefoot-and-pregnant board. But that wasn't Pearce's only faux pas. While debating against Hurlock on the Senate floor, Pearce said he couldn't divulge everything he knew. "Just trust us," he said. "There's a fear of some environmentalism here." Which leads us to: JEERS to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. As reported Thursday by Barker, Otter's appointee, Hurlock, gave $400 to the campaign of his opponent in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, Rex Rammell. So much for environmentalism, Sen. Pearce. Hurlock said she admired Rammell's stance on wolves, which, as far as we can see, is shoot, shovel and shut up. Beyond that, this information raises some important questions about the man who appointed Hurlock to the commission. Did Otter not know about Hurlock's support for Rammell? A committee led by Otter's confidant, Dyke Nally, vetted Hurlock. Did it not check the Secretary of State's website to see who she had donated money to? Sadly, ignorance of this donation would be Otter's best-case scenario. It would be far worse if Otter knowingly appointed a Fish and Game commissioner who supported Rammell, the former operator of a canned-hunt elk ranch arrested for poaching an elk. Bad job, Governor. Bad job. CHEERS to Chad Stanger, Idaho Falls' public works director. Older than dirt and crustier than many of the rocks buried below it, Stanger will retire after 29 years on the job. His last day is March 29. Stanger's bluntness has always been appreciated. Even his adversaries would acknowledge that you never had to guess with Stanger. You always knew where he was coming from and why. Enjoy your retirement, Chad. You've earned it. JEERS to Idaho Freedom Foundation Executive Director Wayne Hoffman. In a recent debate about health care exchanges in Latah County, Hoffman continued a disturbing trend -- the use of Nazi imagery, comparing Idaho's actions to France after being defeated by Germany in World War II. "It was the French government who put French Jews on the train to Auschwitz," Hoffman was quoted by the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. "I don't think they truly understood what they were doing. The time is now to fight for freedom." We'll offer Hoffman the same advice we gave to Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll when she made a similar comparison: Go talk to a Holocaust survivor. We have a feeling you'll walk away with a better understanding of how insulting this comparison is. CHEERS to Wendell and Margaret Petty of Shelley. As reported by the Post Register's Ruth Brown, the Pettys donated $1 million to the Museum of Idaho to help it expand. The museum is a treasure that enriches the lives of all eastern Idahoans. Thanks to the Pettys for their incredible generosity. JEERS to Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, who drafted a resolution urging President Obama, the Justice Department and Congress to "ensure that federal drug-free policy is upheld in all the states." Voters in Washington and Colorado decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and more than a dozen states have embraced this plant's medicinal qualities. That's apparently got Winder, ahem, all fired up. And yet this is the same Winder who pounded the state sovereignty drum when advocating for nullification of health care reform. Federal law trumps state law. The Justice Department can enforce the federal drug ban in these states. That's reality. But so is the fact that once again Sen. Winder, the man who wanted to require vaginal ultrasounds of Idaho women seeking a legal medical procedure, is proving himself to be a rank hypocrite and the worst kind of "conservative," one who doesn't mind using the power of government when it suits his purposes.

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