Editorials

August 31, 2015

Veterans Survey Remains Open

In the wake of last year's scandals involving the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I created a veterans survey to learn more about the experiences and needs of Idaho's veterans community.  The 2014 Veterans Survey was an invaluable tool.  I read the comments that came in and heard loud-and-clear the voices of Idaho veterans.  Their voices have shaped my actions on veterans policy and legislation.  For example, several veterans told me of their experiences with Agent Orange.  Because of … Continue Reading


August 24, 2015

Social Security Administration's Gun Grab Must Stop

The Administration is stepping up efforts to restrict Second Amendment rights.  There have been a number of initiatives to restrict expression of Second Amendment rights.  This includes U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs efforts to label our nation's returning service members as "mentally defective" solely on the basis that they have an appointed fiduciary to help them with their benefits.  It is clear this Administration is determined to deprive American citizens of their constitutional rights… Continue Reading


August 17, 2015

Providing Regulatory Relief To Farmers, Water Users

Rural communities are under a substantial amount of financial strain and regulatory pressure and are looking for much-needed relief.  Bipartisan legislation I introduced seeks to help answer that call by dialing back duplicative and costly regulations associated with the federal pesticide permitting process.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on which I serve, recently passed this legislation by voice vote, and work continues to see this legislation that willlift an additional l… Continue Reading


August 10, 2015

From The Mailbag: Chemical Safety Legislation

As active participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces.  Realizing that many may not have the chance to contact me, I post the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my responses on my website.  Idahoans have contacted me regarding Chemical Safety and the Toxic Substances Control Act.  The following is my response: Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) introduced S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for … Continue Reading


August 03, 2015

Medicare 50th Anniversary A Call To Action For Reforms

July 30 th was the 50 th Anniversary of the creation of Medicare, which has been of considerable importance to many Americans.  Medicare's anniversary should serve as a call to action for achieving the reforms needed to prevent Medicare from becoming insolvent.   To protect current and future Medicare enrollees, comprehensive reforms of the Medicare program must be enacted.  The Medicare Trustees report the program faces an unfunded liability of nearly $25 trillion, and the program is current… Continue Reading


July 27, 2015

INL Powering Reach Of New Horizons

As we look with amazement at the close-up pictures of Pluto, the complex technology it takes to make those images possible is difficult to wrap one's head around.  But, beyond the fascinating and scientific advancement, this is also a proud achievement for Idaho considering the critical role scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have had in this development. Technology developed at INL has made it possible to reach beyond the outer edges of our solar system.  The images of Pluto thr… Continue Reading


July 20, 2015

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness

An astounding number of people-nearly 7.7 million-are affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the U.S.  While progress is being made in recognizing and treating PTSD, unfortunately, far too many cases go undiagnosed.  Greater awareness of PTSD can help ensure that more who suffer from PTSD get the help they need.  I joined 22 fellow senators in introducing a bipartisan resolution that designated June as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month and June 27, 2015, as N… Continue Reading


July 13, 2015

Nuclear Energy Innovation

Our country needs an energy plan that focuses on reducing environmental risks and reliance on foreign resources from volatile countries around the globe.  Nuclear energy is a key component of the long-term, diversified energy plan our country needs.  To ensure nuclear energy remains a cornerstone of our power generation system, we must keep our current nuclear plants operating while we deploy new reactors and new technologies.  Other countries continue to develop nuclear reactor prototypes and c… Continue Reading


July 06, 2015

Continuing To Work To Improve Veterans Services

Throughout my travels across Idaho, I have heard loud and clear the frustration many veterans feel while trying to access the services they deserve.  I share their frustration.    Although Congress has worked to invigorate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with increased funding, it is clear that funding increases alone are not enough.  More must be done to improve the delivery of benefits to veterans.  Short-term fixes and top-down policy changes are not enough to bring about the ty… Continue Reading


June 22, 2015

Federal Water Grab Must Be Stopped

In the face of unprecedented opposition from small businesses, agriculture groups, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and many other Americans, the Administration is moving forward in finalizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to wrongly assert jurisdiction over nearly all waters of the United States.  The Administration's water grab is harmful to our economy, inconsistent with the intent of the Clean Water Act (CWA), subverts state water sovereignty and jeopardizes pr… Continue Reading


June 15, 2015

Encouraging Men's Health This Father's Day

This year marks the 21 st anniversary of the official awareness period of Men's Health Week, which is June 15-19-the week of Father's Day.  Men often pay too little attention to their health until a serious problem emerges.  As the Men's Health Network reports, women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men.  During this Father's Day holiday that was established to honor fathers for what they have done for their families, we ca… Continue Reading


June 08, 2015

From The Mailbag: Social Security And Medicare Solvency

As active participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces.  Realizing that many may not have the chance to contact me, I post the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my responses on my website.  Idahoans frequently contact me to share their experiences with Medicare and Social Security.  The following is my response: Medicare and Social Security are both in need of comprehensive reforms to better serve the peo… Continue Reading


June 06, 2015

Repealing The Death Tax

Idahoans were on the hook for more than $26 million in estate taxes for 2013, according to U.S. Internal Revenue Service statistics.  This is an average $1.6 million in federal tax liability for the Idaho families who had to meet this burden while enduring the loss of a loved one.  High federal taxes should not prevent a family farmer, rancher or other business owner from passing the business they built onto their children.  This unfair tax must be permanently repealed. That is why I am again… Continue Reading


May 25, 2015

Getting It Right For Veterans

In March, I wrote about working with Idaho veterans to press for needed changes to the Veterans Choice Program to ensure that Idaho veterans can access the services they so greatly deserve.  Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently made needed changes to its policy regarding private health care access for veterans that means more veterans can get health care closer to home without traveling distances to VA care facilities. The Veterans Choice Program offers the alternat… Continue Reading


May 11, 2015

Youth Challenge Program

Organization-Maturity-Discipline-Motivation-These are qualities a graduate of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program credited the program with instilling in him.  The National Guard Youth Challenge Program provides training and mentorship for struggling youth to help set them on a productive course.  The program's mission is to "intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline … Continue Reading


May 04, 2015

Advancing County Payments

Extending Secure Rural Schools and Self Determination Act (SRS) payments and fully funding Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) is not a simple undertaking, especially considering the federal government's overspending problem.  However, when the federal government took over millions of acres of lands across our nation, it also took on the responsibility for the impact of federal ownership on local communities.  The federal government can, and must, meet its responsibility within its budget. A provi… Continue Reading


April 27, 2015

Ending Operation Choke Point

Last summer, news reports surfaced regarding a U.S. Department of Justice-led (DOJ) initiative that targets certain industries' ability to access banking services without first showing the companies are not breaking the law.  Rather than targeting bad actors for illegal activity, this effort, known as Operation Choke Point, is causing banks to deny or terminate credit lines due to fear of DOJ subpoenas or unjustified regulatory action by federal banking regulators.  Legitimate industries-legal, … Continue Reading


April 13, 2015

Planning Ahead

As a Boy Scout, I grew up with the motto of "Be Prepared."  As an adult, this enduring phrase is all the more meaningful.  Thinking through and developing plans for emergency situations, including natural disasters or wildfires, can help with a timely recovery when problems arise.  A number of resources and recommendations are available to help us get through and bounce back from tough situations. Putting together an emergency supply kit is encouraged to prepare for disasters such as fire and s… Continue Reading


April 06, 2015

EPA Must Not Undercut Water Projects

The importance of having clean water cannot be overstated.  The fact that we can turn on the tap in most places of our country and know that the water we drink will not make us sick happens because communities across our nation invest in the infrastructure necessary to ensure high water quality.  This is not easy, especially with often rigid and increasingly stringent federal mandates and limited pools of resources to meet them.  My hat goes off to the towns across Idaho and our nation that deli… Continue Reading


March 30, 2015

Safeguarding Our Second Amendment Rights

Some lands and water managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are open for hunting, and there are a small number of authorized shooting ranges, but much of the millions of acres managed by the Corps are off limits to lawful possession of firearms.  Not only is this a violation of the intent of the Second Amendment, but also it is inconsistent with laws and regulations governing lands managed by other federal agencies.  This problem must be fixed to uphold Americans' Second Amendment r… Continue Reading

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