April 19, 2011
Since the Adjournment of Idahos 2011 legislative session on April 7th, a wide spectrum of adjectives have been used to describe this years proceedings. Governor Otter called it very succesful, while Senate Democrats called the session the worst in their collective memories. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said it was a difficult session among some of the worst economic times in memory and Representative Erik Simpson summed it up by quoting Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."
From a pro-life and pro-family perspective it is easy to agree with the Governor and call Idahos 2011 session very successful indeed. According to Julie Lynde, Executive director at Cornerstone Family Council, Governor Otter signed every piece of pro-life legislation that crossed his desk. And many of those measures were quite significant.
Idaho joined Nebraska and Kansas as the third state to prohibit late term abortions (in this case 20 or more weeks) based upon an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This is a huge step toward upholding the value of all life, and in reinforcing the humanity of the unborn child. At least 12 other state legislatures are advancing similar measures. (See the Fetal Pain state map here).
Prohibiting Abortion Coverage in Obamacare
With the passage of S 1115, Idaho ensured that abortion will not be covered in health plans created through the Health Exchange instituted in Obamacare. Seven other states have passed this same law (AZ, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT, VA) and at least 17 other states have introduced similar measures. The passage of this bill ensures that the current law in Idaho, which prohibits abortion coverage in all health insurance plans, will not be jeopardized by Obamacare.
In addition, a resolution was passed (HCR 23) which removed a dangerous Health and Welfare Medicaid rule that could be used to fund teen abortions and potentially circumvent existing parental consent laws.
Not only was unborn life further protected by the legislature this year, but life was also protected until natural death with the passage of S 1070 prohibiting physician assisted suicide.
Fiscally speaking it was also a productive session. Governor Otter was an active proponent of a bill that was passed to balance the budget without raising taxes and several educational reform bills removing collective bargaining for teachers, instilling a merit-based pay system, and shifting allocation of school funds toward technology.
Very successful seems to be an adequate description of this years session, though it is easy to see how some might disagree. Perhaps Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill sums it up best of all when he says: History will tell if this session was a great accomplishment or failure. Anyone who claims we haven't accomplished much wasn't paying attention.