Idaho Legislature, Day 36: a reading roundup

By Kevin Richert

• The big story from Friday was the Senate State Affairs Committee's quick rejection of the "Add the Words" gay rights bill.

Dan Popkey's Saturday column looks at the politics of the move -- with the historic closed GOP primary as the backdrop for the decision.

In our Sunday editorial, we say the vote keeps Idaho on the wrong side of history. Both articles, not surprisingly, have generated a lot of comments on our website.

• As Idaho lawmakers discuss ethics reforms, here’s a primer in ethics – from Boise State University President Bob Kustra, a former legislator and lieutenant governor in Illinois.

Popkey has the story.

• If you believe Gov. Butch Otter's budget numbers, Idaho has ample money to reverse $35 million in Medicaid cuts. So why is he preferring to put the money into savings?

Here's my weekend column.

• An Idaho Falls lawmaker is taking another run at imposing a two-year moratorium on wind projects.

Republican Rep. Erik Simpson’s bill, introduced in a House committee, would establish an eight-member House-Senate task force to study wind issues and report to the Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter by January 2014. More from Mitch Coffman of

• Arguing for a $1.25-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax, Idaho State Dental Association president Gregory J. Bengtson says the move would discourage young people from picking up an unhealthy habit.

“By keeping the price of tobacco products so low, we encourage behavior that damages thousands of lives while costing us millions of wasted dollars. Why make it so easy to do the wrong thing?”

Read more in Sunday’s Reader’s View.

• Like us, The Times-News in Twin Falls is siding with state superintendent Tom Luna: Idaho should backfill $19.4 million into the teacher salary pool, to offset pay cuts in 2012-13.

“It’s a great idea that will minimize a major disruption in Idaho classrooms amid so much other change,” the paper said in a Friday editorial. “But we have to ask, why couldn’t Luna and the Legislature have planned it this way in the first place?

“Critics of Luna’s reforms are certainly right about one thing — they were rushed, and situations like this prove it.”

• Former U.S. Rep. Bill Sali resurfaced at the Statehouse last week, pushing for a specialty plate to fund a nonprofit group he has founded with his wife and nephew. The Spokane Spokesman-Review panned the move as self-serving.

From an editorial: “Idaho already offers 30 specialty plates, which generate about $1.6 million. Sali estimates sales of the In God We Trust plates could reach 5,000, which would give his foundation admirable cash flow. …
“In God We Trust sounds more like a collection plate than a license plate. Don’t go down that road.”

Read more in today’s WestViews.

Get Twitter updates on my blog and column and Statesman editorials. Become a follower. You can also get updates on Facebook's Idaho Statesman Opinion Page.