Welcome to a new blog by Rep. Labrador

When I was asked last week to start blogging for the Idaho Statesman, I have to admit that I was surprised.

Typically, the media does not care much what a freshman member of the Idaho State House of Representatives has to say. (As my friends and family are sure to remind me, they still don’t!!!)

At first, I was honored that they would ask (even if I was not necessarily first on their list). But after thinking about it, I felt the same feelings expressed by Sen. David Langhorst in his initial blog from last week: fear that I would not have enough time to do a good job and concern about the uncivil nature of some of the discourse in the comment threads.

Time for me is a precious thing. For starters, I am the father of five young children (ages 5-15). My free time (when I have any) is filled with family activities and responsibilities. Further, I own my own business. I am an attorney and own a law firm. I have seven employees and spend a lot of time each day dealing with personnel and case management issues.

In addition, as one of the youngest and newest members of the Legislature, I spend a lot of time just learning how the legislative process works. One of the most interesting parts of the job has been to learn how to work in a large organization.

In my private life, I have always worked for small firms or owned a small business, and am used to making quick decisions. After consultation with my staff at work or my wife at home, decisions are implemented without much delay.

The legislative process is much different, though. I come up with what I consider to be a good idea. Then, I have to shop it around so I can convince at least 36 people in the House (who, like me, think their ideas are always the best) that my idea is even worth considering.

Then, if I am successful, I have to convince 18 strong-willed senators that my idea is worth their time.

If I am lucky enough to make it through this whole labyrinth, then I have to make sure the governor likes it or it will be vetoed, which just starts the whole process all over again.

Now, just a short thought on the nature of the discourse in the comment threads: One of the things that I have been worried about the most is the personal nature of some of the comments made by people who disagree with politicians, in general, and Republicans, in particular.

There is a trend in the United States, which is exacerbated by the blogosphere, to vilify and personalize all political discourse and disagreement. One of the things that I enjoy the most about my experience working in the legislature is working with people of good will and honor every day, even those with whom I disagree completely on the major issues of our day.

I have never been offended by or upset with a colleague over policy or philosophical differences. I have only been upset when people have been duplicitous or tried to attack me personally.

While I will vigorously and forcefully defend my positions in this blog, and will at times attack the policy and philosophical underpinnings of the other side’s arguments, I hope to do so with dignity and respect.

Well, I hope this experience is worthwhile for you, the reader, and me, the writer, as we work together to understand each other a little bit better.

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador
Idaho Legislature

Your dipthong isn't showing...

in this font (Verdana, I think).

If your name is Raul or something with marks. It's a box. You'll have to make it plain for HTML.

EDIT: That worked. Carry on!

Education

Rep. Labrador--with your children ages, do they go to public school? The reason I'm asking is because I'm a school teacher that has to work 2-3 jobs in Idaho. I now teach in Nyssa, OR (but live in Idaho)and only have to work teaching and 1 extra job. I'm trying to find a job in Texas so I can make a living wage. What is your feeling on teacher's pay in Idaho?

ISTARS

Representative Labrador,

What is your standing on Supt. Luna's ISTAR Plan?

Please cite

"One of the things that I have been worried about the most is the personal nature of some of the comments made by people who disagree with politicians, in general, and Republicans, in particular."
Care to elaborate?

Republicans are disageeable

to rational thinking Americans. Probably has alot to do with the nasty comments. "It's the Economy Stupid"...or Iraq. Take your pick of offensive Republican actions these past 8 years. Can't wait 'till November.

Rep Labrador,

I do not recall one significant accomplishment by the Idaho Legislature in the past five to ten years. As a Freshman member do you intend to do something or are you going to be there like the majority of the others, just for the bloated salary and benefits.

glad to see you

On another comment thread someone remarked the Statesman doesn't monitor posts. That seems true because there's no mechanism for reporting inappropriate remarks. Be that as it may, I'm glad you're blogging & I'll read you -- and comment under my real name. Fire away!

There certainly IS one!

Click on the words at the bottom in the green bar and at the end to the rules is a link to do that.

Having said THAT, it could be quiet in here tomorrow, snow day or not ;-)

Got it, thanks.

Can I still grouse because it wasn't obvious, at least not to me? ;)

Yah...

You can grouse SAGELY, if you wish.

Please keep it up.

I know it's a real pain to type instead of talk and it takes a lot of time to say a little, but I am like a lot of other voters in this state. I don't really understand what happens down there every spring, how things work, what it takes, where the ideas come from, etc.
If you, as a freshman, can take the time to educate us as you become educated I know it would help me.
Thanks for taking the time.
By the way, I think it would be interesting for your 15 year old to add a comment on what it's like having you in the legislature.. a young point of view can often open eyes to things not though of.

Local Option Tax Authority

Representative Labrador,

As a representative of a rapidly urbanizing district, I urge you to support local option taxing authority for transportation projects. We need to follow the lead of forward thinking states like Utah, Arizona and Oregon to name a few who allow local option taxing for transportation projects. Failure to do so will make us less economically competitive in what is cearly a global economy. I live in District 14 and I support local option taxing authority for transportation projects including roads, bridges and public transportation. I sincerely hope that you will also support it.

Mr. Labrador:

You said, "I have only been upset when people have been duplicitous or tried to attack me personally."

Get ready. You're gonna love this place!

Welcome Rep. Labrador!

Nicely done! You are right: there's a lot more to legislating than simply having a good idea. The tedious process is a good thing overall. Imagine how unstable our policies would be if all of the "good" ideas in the legislature were on the fast track. And as far as the comments are concerned, there is something to learn from most of them. Forget the other ones. Glad to have you along for the ride!

Grocery Tax FACTS- Please read to understand!

Q:How many states tax groceries under their general sales tax?
A: As of April 2004, 16 states include sales of groceries in their state general sales tax base. 29 states and the District of Columbia exempt groceries from the state sales tax, and 5 states do not levy general sales taxes at the state level.

Half a dozen states have moved toward exempting groceries in the past decade.

Georgia phased out its food tax between 1996 and 1998;
North Carolina phased out its tax between 1997 and 1999;
Missouri lowered its food tax from 4.225% to 1.225% in 1997;
Virginia gradually phased in a cut in the state sales tax on food from 3.5% to 1.5%, starting in 2000;
Louisiana eliminated its state sales tax on food in 2002.
New Mexico passed legislation in 2004 which exempts groceries effective January 1, 2005.
Taxation of Groceries on the State Level
No Sales Tax # of States State Names
5 AK, DE, MT, NH, OR
Groceries Taxable at Normal Rate 12 AL, AR, HI, ID, KS, MS, OK, SC, SD, UT, WV, WY
Groceries Taxable at Reduced Rate 4 IL, MO, TN, VA
Groceries Exempt 30 AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NE, NV, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, PA, RI, TX, VT, WA, WI

Of the 12 states that apply the regular sales tax rate to groceries, five states (Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming) allow a special "sales tax credit" designed to rebate sales taxes paid by low-income taxpayers. This means that only seven states-- Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia-- currently tax food without providing any form of low-income credit to offset this regressive tax.

No sales tax only important to Idahoans, and barely.

Maybe for cars.

I don't find it worthwhile to shop anywhere much besides Grocery Outlet and with regular prices what they are I can only remember the former discounted prices much more strongly.

I'm happy to get apples and amazed to see oranges that aren't on a gelatin box.

Thank You

I am happy to see that you are providing information to the public via your blog. I know how precious your time must be. I have only recently become aware of this service you are providing, even though we are nearing the end of the session. I had to laugh when one of the earlier commenters referred to your "bloated salaries" Thanks again for your service.

Idaho salaries don't allow for bloating >B )

Really?

So what's a new member make a year? Over the average salary of an average Idaho worker, I'd bet. Nobody in the legislature is hurting for money, folks.