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112th Congress
Vol. 2, Issue 3: October 20, 2011
In This Issue

Fellow Idahoans,

Congress faces many important deadlines in the coming months regarding the budget. These deadlines are the result of repeated failures by Congress to address America's financial problems. If this Congress does not own up to overspending and stop kicking the problem further down the road, at some point in the not-too-distant future our credit will run out and our economy will suffer a catastrophic meltdown. Here are a few upcoming opportunities Congress should use to take control of the debt:

    1. The federal government began its 2012 fiscal year on October 1. Earlier this year the House passed a budget. However, since the Democrats in the Senate refused to even consider a budget, Congress approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating. That CR expires on November 18. Before then, the 2012 budgets must be approved or another CR will need to be put in place.

    2. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) made up of six Republicans and six Democrats is required to submit a plan to cut deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years (not nearly enough). The deadline to present their findings is November 23 and was created with the passage of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that ended the debt ceiling standoff.

    3. Once that committee approves a plan, each house of Congress must vote on it by December 23. In addition, the credit rating agencies have made it clear that while $1.2 trillion is a good floor, if Congress does not cut in the neighborhood of $3-4 trillion in the next 10 years, the U.S. will still face significant challenges.

It remains to be seen if the philosophical differences of our belief in reducing government versus the other side's raising taxes will continue to gridlock our government.

Risch Report Signature

"Job-Killing Regulations" - Real Life Examples of Overregulation

New Regulations in 2011In this age of 24-hour media and quick sound bites to get across important issues, the real-life examples behind the sound bites are never fully explained.  One sound bite you may have heard frequently (and certainly will hear in the future) is "job-killing regulations."

I have used the phrase as well as other members of the Idaho delegation in an attempt to highlight federal regulations that are preventing or slowing down the creation of jobs in our state and country.  In fact, more than 64,000 pages of federal regulations have been published since January 1 of this year, costing American businesses billions in compliance and reporting costs - something I recently discussed with Lou Dobbs.  Let me move beyond the sound bite and give you some real Idaho examples of why we say federal regulations are hurting the creation of jobs.

  • A north Idaho business is trying to get their technology certified and anticipates growing their business from 13 to 350 employees in five years.  They have just received their second delay letter from the federal agency charged with certifying their technology and were told the agency may get around to looking at it in three months.  The business is now looking at moving outside the U.S.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently issued regulations prohibiting the use of federal funds to purchase potatoes by women in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.  USDA tried to limit the servings of potatoes in school lunches, thereby forcing schools to spend more money on higher costing vegetables from already tight budgets.  We just won that fight.  Potatoes are an important source of nutrition and Idaho’s highest production value crop.

  • An Idaho couple has been stopped from building their home on their property by the EPA because it has been deemed a "wetland" even though there is no water on it and it isn't on the EPA's list of wetlands.

  • Sewer rates in many communities around the state may be going up due to regulation changes in EPA standards for discharge.  Elected officials in Nampa and Soda Springs recently announced that sewer rates may have to double as they need to upgrade systems to meet new federal standards.  In north Idaho, wastewater plants in Post Falls, Hayden and Coeur d'Alene are removing more phosphorus from their effluent than is required by federal standards.  Yet the EPA is working to change those standards to levels not yet technologically achievable. Officials in Post Falls are saying they may have to impose a building moratorium if the new standards are required.  No building means no growth and no new jobs.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor is changing regulations on prevailing wages for quarry workers and is attempting to increase the wage from $10 to $14 an hour.  Quarry owners south of Twin Falls says they can't afford the increase and will have to lay off workers if the regulation goes through.

I could go on with more examples, but I think you get my point – federal regulations harm the creation of jobs and take money out of our economy.  So the next time you hear the phrase "job-killing regulations," you will know it is more than a sound bite and impacts us here at home.

Selective Enforcement Not the Answer on Immigration

One topic I am frequently contacted about is illegal immigration.

The federal government's top responsibility is to defend the borders of the nation.  The men and women who take on this responsibility are doing a tremendous job keeping us safe from foreign threats, but their efforts to enforce immigration laws are often undermined by policies and directives flowing out of Washington.

In the past few months, two such proposals that undermine the rule of law have been passed down by the administration.  In June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton urged his agency to use "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which of the pending 300,000 federal deportation cases to pursue, or in other words, stop deporting people. That effort was followed up in August, by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano directing DHS to close the books on any non-criminal, public menace cases and, in certain circumstances, grant conditional permanent residency.

This kind of selective enforcement is outrageous.  No one should be rewarded for breaking the law.  I have joined with 18 senators in writing the president to express our frustration and concerns with these policies.  In our letter, we asked him to rescind these directives and work with Congress to address illegal immigration.  We can do this, but working unilaterally will never achieve the practical, workable immigration system we need.

Grizzly Bear Legislation Introduced

Last month, I joined with Senator Crapo, Congressman Simpson and Congressman Labrador in introducing legislation to strengthen the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by protecting the right of self-defense.  The case of Jeremy Hill, an Idahoan, was our motivation for this action.

In August, Mr. Hill was charged with a violation of the ESA for killing a grizzly bear on his property.  It's obvious to everyone who followed the case that he was not hunting a grizzly bear, rather he was protecting his family which he truly believed was in harm's way.

Under current law, self defense and defense of human life are exceptions to the Endangered Species Act.  In this case, the U.S. Attorney took that to mean one must visually witness an attack or near attack before acting.  Since Mr. Hill did not visually see the threat against his children, he was charged with killing a protected species.

While this case was later resolved with lesser charges, obvious discrepancies between what the law prohibits and how it is implemented remain.  Our legislation addresses those differences by authorizing the Secretary of Interior to also determine if there was a reasonable belief of imminent danger posed by a protected species at the time it was taken.

At Work in Idaho

Over the past few months I have made several stops around the state.  The snapshots below highlight a few.  Visit the "Photo Galleries" page on my website to see more.
Meeting with the Potlatch Boy Scouts - 07/16/11
    Meeting with Boy Scout Troop 358 in Potlatch
Presenting Medals to Idaho Congressional Award Winners in the Statehouse - 08/30/11
 Congratulating Congressional Award Winners at the Statehouse
Speaking to the Twin Falls Kiwanis Club - 08/18/11
Speaking to the Twin Falls Kiwanis Club