ITD funding issue points out folly of being dependent on the feds

After all these years working with government agencies, some of their responses continue to surprise me. On July 2, I asked the Idaho Transportation Department to tell me how it was responding to a July 1 letter containing a threat from the federal government that it may curtail highway construction money that states, including Idaho, were expecting to receive. The department’s spokesman, Reed Hollinshead, responded with, “ITD will temporarily suspend further advertising of construction projects pending resolution of the funding shortfall. ITD is aware of the situation and remains hopeful that this impasse can be avoided.” The response prompted other
Read More

Medicaid expansion, not higher speed limit, needs reconsideration

Idaho’s freeways will not be upgrading to an 80 mph speed limit just yet. Despite receiving legislative approval during the last session, concerns raised by AAA and the Idaho Trucking Association have prompted the Idaho Transportation Department to reevaluate its plans. Whether this delay frustrates you (as it does me) likely depends on your views on the current speed limits and the inconvenience they impose. It’s interesting to note, though, that Utah’s 80 mph speed limits haven’t been a problem, Texas actually has an 85 mph speed limit on one highway and Wyoming is set to join the 80 mph
Read More

Occupational licensing a noble-sounding scheme that limits competition

The goal of Idaho’s Bureau of Occupational Licenses is “to help safeguard human health and property, and to promote the public welfare.” Who can be against that? It’s actually a lot of smoke and mirrors. One such outcome of such regulations is to limit the number of workers and protect those in the respective industries from increased competition. Think about it: In order to get the license, one has to study for an extensive period of time and pass costly exams. The board supervising the licenses is made up of workers from the profession whose interest is to limit the
Read More

Corporations were in church Sunday, Ringo just does not know where to look

This week’s Supreme Court ruling said that a “closely held” company such as Hobby Lobby on religious grounds can opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide contraception coverage. Not unexpectedly, that drew comment from the candidates for Idaho’s 1st congressional district, incumbent Republican Raul Labrador and Democrat challenger Shirley Ringo of Moscow. Predictably, Labrador praised the decision, saying “No American should be forced to choose between following their faith and submitting to unlawful and unnecessary government mandates.” Also predictably, Ringo denounced the decision, but in so doing sort of hung herself out to dry. Among the comments
Read More

Beware of funding promises made by Medicaid expansion proponents

Medicaid “redesign” has its usual share of proponents and opponents, but there is big win in store for the state’s hospitals if Medicaid expansion is passed in the coming legislative session. Gov. Butch Otter has appointed a Medicaid task force to develop some recommendations for him by Sept. 1. At the most recent task force meeting, IdahoReporter.com quoted Steve Millard, task force member and president of the Idaho Hospital Association, “We have a real opportunity here to expand Medicaid and to do it on the federal dime. That is good for Idaho, and my association is prepared to spend money
Read More