IDAHO: Time for major change

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Of all states, Idaho ranks 49th in per capita income and 48th in education. We rank 19th in unemployment; the problem is that we also rank 49th with the highest percentage of minimum wage jobs. What have our “conservative” Republicans and our governor done about this mess in the last couple of years?

I know they have more important things on their minds like trying to legislate morality such as in continuing the effort to restrict and/or outlaw abortions (Senate Bill 1193). Of course, they have also been unable to extend anti-discrimination protections to gays even though affected Republicans such as Governor Batt, former Vice President Cheney, Senator McCain, etc., have seen the light. Hey, where is the Republicans’ “Big Tent?”

More recent “accomplishments” of our Idaho legislators:

Idaho has a law that punishes animal cruelty with up to six months in jail. But now our legislators just outlawed the filming or recording of acts of animal cruelty. Doing so without permission can now be punished with up to one year in jail. The intent of this new law is to prevent whistle blowing of an illegal activity. Any contradiction? Any insanity anywhere?

Our legislature also made sure that guns are permitted on campuses against the advice of school administrators, police and other people with common sense. Another joke in this law: How can students protect themselves with a gun when they cannot keep it in their dormitories?

A long overdue increase in the minimum wage has to be avoided at all costs.

Idaho Republicans did not want to have anything to do with Obamacare, and therefore rejected on purely ideological grounds the Medicaid expansion financed with $90 million of federal money. Presently Idaho’s medical indigencies are paid for by local property taxes. Under the federal Medicaid expansion, an estimated 100,000 low income Idahoans would have insurance and the local property taxpayers would be off the hook. Is that a no-brainer?

The House committee just OK’d a tax cut by cutting all tax bracket rates by .1 percent per year for six years. For a single person with an income of $20,000 (about $10/hour) this will result in a minuscule tax savings of about $5 the first year. Great!

At the same time, our governor and his legislators had no problem finding $2 million to begin eradicating wolves. Ranchers could have been compensated for a lot of proven wolf kills. Hunting, trapping and federally financed shooting from helicopters, last month done in secret, is not enough to control wolf population?

Now back to my opening statement: How can we demand that our legislators and the governor do something productive to improve Idaho’s dismal ranking in education, living wage jobs and personal income?

We must vote to bring Idaho into the 21st century by voting those ideologues out of office. One step would be to educate our low income population to vote for their own economic interests just like the traditional better off Republican constituency does.

JUERGEN NOLTHENIUS

Coeur d’Alene

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