August 19, 2013

Advancing Tax Reform Principles

As the Senate Finance Committee advances tax reform, I remain committed to the hard work of comprehensive fiscal reform, combining thoughtful tax reform with fundamental reforms to mandatory programs.  As part of this process I recently had the opportunity to submit a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) outlining my proposal for comprehensive tax reform.  Tax reform needs to be comprehensive to get us past the tired and fail… Continue Reading

August 12, 2013

Wildfire Mitigation Efforts

As wildfires burn across the western United States, efforts continue in Congress to try to help alleviate pressure on the firefighters and others working tirelessly to keep our communities safe.  While some of these objectives will take time to achieve, it is clear that we need to maintain focus on improving the health of our federal lands, decreasing the threat of catastrophic fires and ensuring that firefighters have the best resources to protect our communities.    I recently joined Senator … Continue Reading

August 05, 2013

Maintaining Equitable Access To Our Federal Lands

I have long been a proponent of fair access to our public lands.  Americans pay for the upkeep of our federal land assets and should not be shut out of benefitting from these resources through unnecessary restrictions and steep fees.  This includes ensuring that cabin user fees on federal lands are administered fairly and reasonably.  That is why I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues in reintroducing legislation to help ensure the continuation of equitable access to our federal lands by a… Continue Reading

July 29, 2013

Nurturing Healthy Relationships

We meet many people in our lives in our communities, work, school, travels and elsewhere.  Our ability to positively interact with others contributes to our ability to meet life's challenges.  We can help set our children on productive paths and help decrease violence by not overlooking the importance of healthy relationships in their success and having discussions with them about what it means to have a healthy relationship.  Progress has been made in raising awareness about domestic violence,… Continue Reading

July 22, 2013

Another Consequence Of Obamacare

Since Obamacare was rammed through Congress, we have seen the problems and costs continue to grow.  Reports of workers losing work hours and pay due to Obamacare health care coverage mandates are among the problems.  Given the considerable problems with the law, the Obama administration's recent delay of the health care law mandate that forces employers to provide insurance or face a penalty is welcome.  However, it only magnifies the concerns businesses, specifically small businesses, have rais… Continue Reading

July 15, 2013

From The Mailbag: Educational Standards

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.  Concerns with the Common Core Standards and the federal government's overreach in education are among the issues constituents have contacted me about recently.  The following is my response: The Common Core Standards w… Continue Reading

July 08, 2013

America Cannot Repeat Immigration Mistakes

Rarely does an issue invoke more interest than immigration reform and border security.  During the U.S. Senate's recent debate of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, commonly referred to as the immigration reform bill, I heard from more than 2,000 Idahoans concerned about the legislation.  Immigration reforms are past due.  However, S. 744 would not stop illegal immigration while ensuring fairness for current Americans and immigrants.  I voted aga… Continue Reading

July 01, 2013

Freedom: The Heart Of Our Nation

The pursuit of freedom inspired countless settlers to brave the long journey to America.  To secure liberty in our nation, American leaders signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  The freedoms cemented by this and other founding charters in our nation's history and upheld by brave Americans are the heart of our United States of America.  Our nation is rooted in the ideal that we are endowed by our Creator "with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursu… Continue Reading

June 24, 2013

Increasing Access To Idaho Dairy Products

June is National Dairy Month, a time to recognize the significant contribution of the dairy industry to the world.  Idaho dairy producers and processors are leading the charge in developing and producing innovative dairy products that are feeding families within and beyond Idaho's borders.  As they continue to advance, increasing exposure to nutritious Idaho dairy products will benefit our economy and the world's consumers. In addition to playing an important nutritional role, dairy production … Continue Reading

June 17, 2013

Taking Steps To Reduce Fire Risk

Last year, more than 1,000 wildland fires burned more than 1.6 million acres in Idaho alone.  A significant fire threat is expected again this year.  The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) Predictive Servicesunit is forecasting "above normal potential for significant fire activity" in portions of Idaho.  Southern and central Idaho are dry with substantial forest and rangeland fuel loads.  As we prepare for another potentially difficult fire year, taking steps to better ensure the safety o… Continue Reading

June 10, 2013

Using Tax Scrutiny To Chill Speech Is Intolerable

The recently-revealed targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for additional tax scrutiny is outrageous and goes against the freedoms on which our nation was founded.  The federal government is supposed to work for the American people and help strengthen our nation, not tear down our freedoms from within.  That is why we must do everything we can to hold the IRS accountable for these inexcusable attempts to silence political dissent, and strong reforms must be impl… Continue Reading

June 03, 2013

Taking County Funds Is Not The Solution

The Budget Control Act of 2011, a concept first proposed by the Obama administration, requires across-the-board spending reductions in federal government programs.  For Fiscal Year 2013, the estimated sequester is $85 billion and would apply to federal agencies and programs unless otherwise exempted by law.  The administration has been implementing sequestration based on its priorities.  The administration's decision to cut Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools and Self Deter… Continue Reading

May 27, 2013

Honoring Citizen Soldiers

This Memorial Day we join with family and friends to honor the many brave Americans who we depend on to secure our homeland, while remembering the sacrifices of those who lost their lives defending our freedoms.  As we reflect on the service of these brave men and women, we must count among them the citizen soldiers who make up our National Guard and Reserve forces.  These men and women are an essential part of our military and, along with all members of our armed services, they have my utmost r… Continue Reading

May 20, 2013

Multiple-Use Management Cannot Be Lost

It seems that in recent years there has been a decreased focus on ensuring multiple use of public lands.   Multiple use of public lands remains the most effective utilization of our natural resources, and it is the guiding law for their management.  It is central to balancing the needs of those who enjoy the outdoors and those who rely on public lands for their businesses.  It allows for the productive use of the land and protection of the environmental services these lands provide.  Unfortunate… Continue Reading

May 13, 2013

Watching The Watchdog

As part of our government's system of checks and balances, Congress conducts oversight over agencies to bring about transparency and accountability.  This is even more necessary with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was established unlike any other federal department or agency.  Unlike most federal agencies, it does not have to justify its actions or expenditures and the director holds unique power to determine the agency's budget and mission priorities without any public d… Continue Reading

May 06, 2013

From The Mailbag: FAA Airport Towers

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.  The top issues constituents have contacted me about recently include concerns about funding cuts by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would remove contracted control tower service in many small cities acros… Continue Reading

April 29, 2013

Additional Cost-Saving Steps Needed

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released its annual report to Congress that identifies potentially redundant government programs and opportunities to save billions of dollars through eliminating government overlap.  The agency also took stock of progress in reducing previously identified duplication, overlap and fragmentation, meaning multiple agencies conducting programs or activities in the same area in the federal government.  GAO provided recommendations of steps tha… Continue Reading

April 22, 2013

Conservation That Counts

The best way to ensure that we continue to have clean water and air, productive soil and healthy habitat for wildlife is by working cooperatively with property owners to promote conservation.  Collaborative conservation efforts result in lasting commitment to real improvements.  These voluntary efforts are preferable to heavy-handed, blunt regulations that result in little actual improvement. It would be hard to argue the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been successful in recovering species.  … Continue Reading

April 15, 2013

The Impacts Of EPA Regulations

Business owners know to plan for change.  In our evolving, global economy, they understand that there will be ups and downs due to market and policy changes.  They understand that operating a business, whether it is a ranch, farm or retail store, involves risks.  However, they should be able to expect that our government will not pursue federal policies when the benefits do not outweigh the costs.  Unfortunately, there are too many examples of federal regulations that make it harder to do busine… Continue Reading

April 08, 2013

Cleanup, Redevelopment and Jobs

For years, the Linen Building at the northwest corner of 14 th and Grove Streets in Boise was vacant due to concerns about contamination stemming from its historic uses involving commercial laundry, fuel storage and cleaning solvent storage.  This historic property, in the heart of Boise's downtown, was cleaned up, redeveloped and now houses businesses, an event center, an art gallery and a parking area.  The Environmental Council of the States reported that development of the Linen Building le… Continue Reading

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