Idaho’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion gets to work

The Idaho Statesman - - Local - BY CYN­THIA SEWELL [email protected]­hostates­man.com Cyn­thia Sewell: 208-377-6428, Cyn­thia Sewell

The 116th U.S. Congress is of­fi­cially un­der way, even amid the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down that is cast­ing a shadow on ev­ery­thing in the U.S.

Idaho’s four-mem­ber, all-Repub­li­can del­e­ga­tion, Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Reps. Mike Simp­son and Russ Fulcher, had a busy week.

NEW LEG­IS­LA­TION

Idaho’s del­e­ga­tion spon­sored or co-spon­sored three pieces of leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced this week that are spe­cific to or of in­ter­est to Idaho.

Third fed­eral judge: Idaho is one of only three states (with North Dakota and Ver­mont) with only two au­tho­rized dis­trict judge seats for the en­tire state. Idaho has been op­er­at­ing with just two since 1954, when the state’s pop­u­la­tion was 600,000. The cur­rent pop­u­la­tion is 1.7 mil­lion.

Since 2003, the Ju­di­cial Con­fer­ence of the U.S. has con­sis­tently found Idaho to be fac­ing a ju­di­cial emer­gency based on weighted caseload num­bers per ac­tive judge, ac­cord­ing to news re­leases from Idaho’s del­e­ga­tion.

Crapo and Ricsh in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion, S. 103, to es­tab­lish an ad­di­tional fed­eral dis­trict judge­ship in Idaho.

“The abil­ity to de­liver jus­tice to peo­ple in Idaho has been se­verely de­layed due to the lack of a third fed­eral dis­trict judge,” Crapo said in a news re­lease. “Judges from other dis­tricts have stepped in to as­sist, but the amount of cases and re­lated le­gal work is caus­ing judge and court em­ploy­ees in Idaho and from neigh­bor­ing dis­tricts to work many over­time hours.”

Risch said: “The ‘ju­di­cial emer­gency’ fac­ing Idaho has put our state and le­gal sys­tem at a great dis­ad­van­tage. Adding a third dis­trict judge­ship in Idaho is com­mon sense and would help ad­min­is­ter ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive jus­tice in our state.”

Simp­son and Fulcher in­tro­duced sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion, H.R. 214, in the House.

“Ap­point­ing an ad­di­tional judge will help to lessen the grow­ing back­log of cases, de­liver quicker ser­vice to our con­stituents, and make our ju­di­cial sys­tem more ef­fi­cient,” Fulcher said in a news re­lease.

Sal­mon River main­te­nance: Simp­son and Fulcher in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to im­prove a com­mer­cial recre­ation fa­cil­ity at Smith Gulch lo­cated on the Sal­mon River in the Frank Church-River of No Re­turn Wilder­ness.

The bill, H.R. 482, would al­low the use of lim­ited main­te­nance equip­ment needed to main­tain the rou­tine func­tions and safety of the ex­ist­ing lodge.

Cur­rently, the For­est Ser­vice does not be­lieve it has clear au­tho­riza­tion to per­mit the use of the equip­ment nec­es­sary for the gen­eral up­keep of the fa­cil­i­ties at the lodge, ac­cord­ing to Simp­son.

“The pro­posed bill is an ef­fort to clar­ify Congress’ in­tent in leg­is­la­tion passed in 2004 to re­tain the basic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the lodge with­out sub­stan­tially al­ter­ing the ex­ist­ing use,” Simp­son said in a news re­lease. “The use of main­te­nance equip­ment would al­low the lodge to elim­i­nate the re­liance on out­dated en­ergy sources and re­place them with mod­est re­new­able en­ergy sources, all while com­ply­ing with ex­ist­ing laws.”

Crapo and Risch in­tro­duced com­pan­ion leg­is­la­tion, S. 79, in the Se­nate.

Con­cealed carry weapon rec­i­proc­ity: Crapo and Risch have joined 30 GOP sen­a­tors in spon­sor­ing leg­is­la­tion to al­low in­di­vid­u­als with a stateis­sued con­ceal carry per­mit to carry a con­cealed firearm in any other state that al­lows or does not pro­hibit the prac­tice.

The bill, S. 69, is Texas Repub­li­can Sen. John Cornyn’s lat­est ver­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tional Con­cealed Carry Rec­i­proc­ity Act.

“This leg­is­la­tion will al­low in­di­vid­u­als with con­cealed carry priv­i­leges in their home state to ex­er­cise those rights in any other state with con­cealed carry laws, while abid­ing by that state’s laws,” ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

North Carolina GOP Rep. Richard Hud­son has in­tro­duced par­al­lel leg­is­la­tion, H.R. 38, in the House.

COM­MIT­TEE AS­SIGN­MENTS

Risch has been elected chair­man of U.S. Se­nate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Re­la­tions, re­plac­ing Sen. Bob Corker, R-Ten­nessee, whose re­tire­ment put Risch next in line for the chair­man­ship.

Risch, 75, is the third Ida­hoan to serve as chair­man of the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, fol­low­ing Wil­liam Bo­rah’s ten­ure from 1925-33 and Frank Church’s two year term in 1979-80.

“I look for­ward to giv­ing Idaho a voice on the global stage as we look to con­front many is­sues that hit home across my state, like ad­vanc­ing the in­ter­ests of Idaho cit­i­zens and busi­nesses in in­ter­na­tional trade and in­vest­ment, pro­mot­ing Idaho ex­ports, and sup­port­ing hu­man rights and con­fronting the prob­lem of sex traf­fick­ing,” Risch said in a news re­lease.

In ad­di­tion to lead­ing For­eign Re­la­tions, Risch also serves on the fol­low­ing Se­nate com­mit­tees: Small Busi­ness and En­trepreneur­ship En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Ethics, and In­tel­li­gence.

Crapo was re-elected to lead the Bank­ing, Hous­ing, and Ur­ban Af­fairs Com­mit­tee.

“In the 115th Congress, we ush­ered dozens of bills through the Com­mit­tee and into law, from leg­is­la­tion to right-size reg­u­la­tion for Main Street fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and en­cour­age eco­nomic growth, to laws that will hold for­eign coun­tries ac­count­able and pro­tect our na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests,” Crapo said in a news re­lease.

He will con­tinue to serve on three other Se­nate com­mit­tees: Bud­get, Finance and Ju­di­ciary.

Simp­son will con­tinue to serve on the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee.

Fulcher has not yet re­ceived his com­mit­tee as­sign­ments, ac­cord­ing to his new chief of staff, state Sen. Cliff Bayer, R-Merid­ian. Bayer’s mother, Regina, is serv­ing as his tem­po­rary re­place­ment in the Idaho Leg­is­la­ture un­til a per­ma­nent re­place­ment is se­lected.

RECORD-SET­TING GOV­ERN­MENT SHUT­DOWN

Congress con­vened last week in the midst of a par­tial fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down that be­gan on Dec. 20. With no im­me­di­ate end in sight, on Sat­ur­day, Day 22, it will be­come the long­est shut­down on record.

The pre­vi­ous long­est stop­page was a 21-day clo­sure that ended Jan. 6, 1996, dur­ing Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Congress this week quickly passed a bill re­quir­ing that all gov­ern­ment work­ers re­ceive retroac­tive pay af­ter the shut­down ends. All four mem­bers of Idaho’s del­e­ga­tion sup­ported the bill.

Now un­der Demo­cratic con­trol, the House in­tro­duced and passed sev­eral stand-alone ap­pro­pri­a­tions mea­sures to fund sev­eral fed­eral agen­cies, in­clud­ing the de­part­ments of agri­cul­ture, in­te­rior, en­vi­ron­ment, trans­porta­tion, and HUD.

Simp­son and Fulcher did not sup­port any these bills.

On Fri­day, Risch joined a group of Se­nate Repub­li­cans to in­tro­duce a bill to per­ma­nently pre­vent gov­ern­ment shut­downs. The End Gov­ern­ment Shut­downs Act would keep the fed­eral gov­ern­ment open when­ever key spend­ing dead­lines are missed by cre­at­ing an au­to­matic con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion for ap­pro­pri­a­tion bills or ex­ist­ing con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tions.

Idaho’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion, from left to right, is made up of Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Rep. Mike Simp­son and Rep. Russ Fulcher. All are Repub­li­cans.

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