Dem Opines On Legislative Session

The following was posted as a “comment” on our April Fools edition, but deserves more prominence as a point of discussion.

State Rep. Dist. 15

When one party controls 80% of all legislative seats, they have 100% control over determining what bills ultimately get introduced and voted on. The minority party proposed several bills that provided direct and immediate property tax relief, including repealing the cap on the homeowners exemption, increasing funds for circuit breaker property tax breaks for those on fixed incomes, releasing internet sales tax money sitting idle in a separate account that would/should be flowing into the general fund (like brick and mortar store sales taxes and thus to the counties). The majority party never let those bills be introduced, debated or voted upon. They sat in the desk draw of the committee chairmen.

And then there’s the $2.48 BILLION dollars in revenue last year alone (over $28 BILLION since 2005) that was not collected due to sales tax exemptions that rarely get reviewed and never sunset.

And, if Ada County got to keep all the revenue it generates from its own growth instead of a large chunk of it flowing to many rural counties via the general fund, Ada County would have more than enough money to meet its needs.

And then there’s the State purchasing the Hewlett Packard campus with took about $2 million a year out of revenue for Boise. And there’s Ada County having to subsidize prisoners from other counties (the county gets a per diem less than what it costs the county).

I could go on. I’m not going to blame all members of “the other party”, even though they hold all the cards and make all the decisions and implemented all the fiscal policies controlling the state for the last 20 years or so. But responsibility and accountability does sit with the LEADERS of the majority party who enable and allow the current situation to have occurred.

In our system of government, if you want change, you have to vote for change. Don’t vote for or against the letter next to the name, vote for the person. Good ideas and good people come from all directions. But it is also appropriate to hold people in power accountable.

So come November, call the candidates on your ballot directly. See if they take or return your call. If they ignore you, that’s a data point to consider. Ask them what you want to know about them and insist on an answer. That’s another data point. See if they talk with you or talk at you. See if they’re more interested in wanting to know what you think instead of telling you what they think. Don’t insist on complete agreement. Insist on respect and the candidate’s understanding that the job he/she wants is ultimately that of a public servant.

Determine if the candidate is a critical thinker or an ideologue and decide accordingly.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I think when some people stubble into the voting booth and have clawed their way past the clueless helpers of the county AKA Volunteers they can only think of one way to vote and it must be.

    R = Right
    R = Righteous
    R = White, Wholesome and Delightful
    R = Fiscally Conservative, which means they use their tongue prettier than a twenty-dollar, well you get my point.

    You want lower taxes you say? I say nope you actually like higher taxes and fees because you keep voting for the same person who won’t change or listen.

  2. guns (30round magazines) and religion (ignore science) are much higher priorities than property taxes, good health care, and social justice.

    proof is in the legislature

  3. Life and Death choices
    Apr 4, 2020, 2:49 pm

    Mr. Berch,
    1) It looks like Idaho and America not prepared for a pandemic. Yes, some countries were prepared and it shows. Tell me please, what went wrong and how would the Democrats do it better in the future? Hint, it’s a problem 50 years in the making. Careful where you point fingers.
    2) Boise and Ada flush with cash. Both controlled by democrats. Are they still going to collect every penny from those taxpayers suddenly out of work? I bet they will. No layoffs from government, ever, never ever!
    3) What were the 3 most important democrat agenda issues in this year’s Idaho legislative session?
    4) Help me decide. My biggest issue right now is not politics. It’s deciding if I should return from retirement to work in an unprepared ill equipped hospital with stupid PPE policy created by a marketing executive. I will almost certainly be putting my life at risk. Wondering how much PPE and vital equipment coulda whoulda shoulda been in storage for the price of the flashy leadership team’s pay.
    5) Please post a list of your top 25 financial donors.

  4. Steve Berch
    Apr 4, 2020, 4:58 pm

    Life and Death: I’ll try to answer your questions as best I can:

    1) The problem is not Republican vs. Democrat. The underlying problem is two-fold: a) Any time any one political party has total control of government for decades on end, they lose touch, take their power for granted, and wind up representing themselves. It’s not a function of party, but rather power – whether its a “red” state or a “blue” state, and b) the real balance we need in government is between people who think short term and people who think long term. There’s too little of the latter. You have to be smart with taxpayer dollars every day but you have to balance that with smart investments in the future – including making **and investing** in contingency plans for the unexpected.

    2) Ada County has been controlled by Republicans for years until last November, so let’s not exaggerate or ascribe blame or accountability with too broad a brush. I can’t speak to what Ada County leaders will do, and I’m not an expert on their cash reserves, so I’ll skip passing judgment without having full and complete knowledge on that topic.

    3) We need to stop putting individual people under a single, broad label and then define them solely by that label. Are all “Republicans” alike – no. Are all “Democrats” alike – no. So I won’t claim to be the authoritative voice on the “democratic agenda. ” But I’ll tell you what the top priorities are for the constituents in my district – and I’ve knocked on over 22,000 doors and walked every street at least three times: 1) under-funding of education, 2) property tax relief (probably tied with education), 3) government not adequately managing growth, which includes infrastructure, roads and bridges, 4) good-paying jobs and being able to keep up with the cost of living, 5) protecting access to public lands.

    4) I can’t help you with this question, other than to tell you that I always try to take the long-term view when making decisions. If I felt my health or life was at risk by going back to work, I’d sacrifice the short-term income to preserve my long-term survival. You have to decide for yourself the degree of risk you’d be taking by going back to work in that environment at this time.

    5) You can see ALL my contributors on the Secretary of State’s website. But let me share this perspective with you: about 98% of the contributions I receive comes from individuals like you and me, which totals to about 75% of the total contribution dollars I receive (which means that I do get some large contributions from PACs). However, if you look at the sunshine reports of members of the majority party, especially those in leadership positions, you’ll see that almost 100% of their contributions come from political and industry PACs – very very little comes from individuals like you and me. I am proud that my campaign is supported overwhelmingly by individuals from all walks of life.

    I hope I’ve adequately addressed your questions.

  5. Chickenhawk
    Apr 4, 2020, 4:59 pm

    Steve Berch is a breath of fresh air in our district after several years of “we will do what we want” dominance from the “good ol boys” in the legislature. We moved to District 15 five years ago, but got to know Mr. Berch personally when I lived in District 14 (which was later redrawn into Meridian’s District 20). He actually took the time to get to know his constituents. Is it any wonder why Fred Martin managed to hang on to his senate seat by only six votes? I can’t remember a time when Lynn Luker or Mark Patterson ever knocked on my door asking what issues mattered to me or my family.

  6. Concerned Neighbor
    Apr 4, 2020, 5:15 pm

    If Dems actually paid attention to what works for Idahoans instead of following the national agenda then they’d get a lot further. Instead, they sit on their twisted (un)ethical stump and preach failure.

    Idaho political division:
    40% Libertarian
    30% Republican
    30% Irrelevant Leftovers

  7. Eamonn Harter
    Apr 4, 2020, 9:14 pm

    We could solve some of this problem by making legislative seats non-partisan just like our local and judicial elections are. Candidates would have to reach out to the voters rather than rely on a knee-jerk party line vote. Term limits would also go a long way to minimizing corruption in state government. I wouldn’t expect the legislature to self-impose these changes, so it would have to come from a grassroots ballot measure.

  8. Steve Berch
    Apr 4, 2020, 9:31 pm

    Eamonn: Idaho voters TWICE imposed term limits on state legislators, in 1996 and 2002 via ballot measure and it became the law of Idaho. Both times the legislature repealed the term limit law three months later when the legislature convened after the November election in those years.

    The problem isn’t that the legislature repealed the will of the voters – it’s that they got re-elected after doing so. Elected officials have to pay a political price for ignoring or reversing the will of the people. Otherwise, they will keep on doing it until the voters stop them at the polls.

  9. Very well said Steve.

  10. This doc is sure hoping those people in Florida and Arizona enjoy their golf.

  11. chicago sam
    Apr 6, 2020, 7:03 am

    One only has to look at the performance in the House on the bill authored by the Speaker Bedke to raise the rebate on the grocery tax. Hung out there like a Pinatta but never allowed to be voted on by the House. The leadership in both the House and Senate was and is deplorable. There are some retirements– Rep.Collins, Anderst, Sen Hill but not to few for my taste. The rank and file legislators need new leadership. Steve Berch raises very good points

  12. Maybe we need to replace Ds with RINOs. At least they could attend a caucus with clout.

  13. I agree that the leadership in the GOP catbird seats totally pushed off any meaningful solutions re property taxes. If they want to prove that they can lead, then they need to address how broken our tax system is in fairness and effectiveness.

    We need massive reform in taxes and banking and regulations that actually serve the peoples’ interests WHILE protecting their individual liberties.

    Easterner….your smear vs pro-gunners and Christians is a cheap shot. If you really hate us…there are CHEAP rates to move to California available every day. Idaho is a refuge for these values. I’m not very religious at all, but I respect the right to be such.

    We have to expect that if the Dems were to gain power, we will see instant changes that we see in the Big Blue Cities or Virginia state, that override the peoples’ rights to the point where every new social and cultural hot button will be pushed that will lead to New York City ordinances vs “mis-gendering” someone. Virginia’s Governor Blackface tried to sell the concept of post birth infanticide.

    I have long lists of this crazy junk piling up in my computer that exposes just how insane the Left has gotten in its progressive causes.

    I would throw the question back to Steve Berch. Look at California. The Dems run the whole place. Nancy Pelosi is the standard bearer. Where do YOU want to live…..THERE or HERE, even with things here as they are?

    I used to be a big water carrier for some of their stuff when it made sense, but it got hi-jacked by the flat out Marxists and I saw that it’s all bunk. The bread and butter issues are now best championed by people like Tucker Carlson. I never thought I would see that. When the Dems start sounding more like him, then they will have my attention. Otherwise, any trust I might have had in their entire party has been LOST.

    Yes, we need to fix a lot of stuff here. But everyday I get up and thank my lucky stars that I am NOT anywhere else.

  14. Steve Berch
    Apr 12, 2020, 1:38 pm

    Forced Air: Thank you for the question. Like I said in my reply to Life and Death – ” We need to stop putting individual people under a single, broad label and then define them solely by that label. Are all “Republicans” alike – no. Are all “Democrats” alike – no.”

    The Republican Party has controlled about 80% of the Idaho Legislature for decades. It would be just as bad if the Democratic Party controlled 80% of the legislature for decades. What I want is more balance.

    Continuous one-party rule does not promote a healthy democracy.

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