November 2016 Treasure Valley Voters Guide

Welcome to our Voter Guide for November's local races, bonds and levies, as well as the presidential election. Compare candidates' views on the issues side by side and create your own ballot, which you can then print or email.

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...Please note: Candidates' responses have not been edited except for libel.

Idaho House District 15 - Seat A

Incumbent: Republican Lynn Luker Term: Two yearsSalary: $16,684

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    Steve Berch

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    Lynn Luker

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Biographical Information

Name your three priorities for Idaho. Do you support current policy on them? if not, describe your alternate plan. How would you pay for your proposals that have costs associated with them?

How should Idaho address the health care needs of the 78,000 residents in the so-called gap population? Do you support Medicaid expansion in some form? Some other proposal? Please address funding for the option you prefer.

What is the state's obligation to public schools? Is Idaho spending enough on buildings, teachers and operations? How can Idaho improve its go-on rate for students leaving high school?

What is your position on the relationship between the federal government, the states and local governments? Is the state right or wrong to hinder or pre-empt action on the local level? Should the state work to take more ownership or control of federal lands in Idaho?

Name three actions taken by the Legislature this past session that you opposed. Name three you supported or would support. Explain.

What is the proper role of a part-time citizen Legislature? Do you think Idaho’s current system works? Does the Legislature function well or do you see need for changes or improvements?

Do you support your party’s presidential nominee? Explain. Include in your answer who you plan to vote for and why.

Have you been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor or felony or had a withheld judgment? If so, what, when and where?

Have you or a company you owned filed bankruptcy? If so, when and where?

Age 66
Education MBA from University of Minnesota, Bachelor of Science from State University of New York at Albany
Prior political experience Elected to Board of Directors of the Greater Boise Auditorium District (GBAD) in 2013, Legislative candidate for District 15 in 2014
Civic involvement GBAD Board of Directors, West Valley Neighborhood Association Vice-President, Idaho Technology Council Development Committee, Vision for the Valley Economic Development Committee, President of local Homeowners Association
Years living in Idaho 35
Family My wife Leslie and I have been married for 33 years, Our daughter Katie graduated from Centennial High School and is attending Boise State University
1) Education. The Legislature is failing our children and grandchildren. The politicians who have been in charge for decades have led Idaho to be ranked nearly last in the nation when it comes to investing in public education. Over 35% of Idaho school districts are on a four-day school week. We do not need to raise taxes. Instead, the Legislature should re-examine how it spends its current resources, including the millions of dollars wasted due to corruption, incompetence and failed lawsuits.

2) Economy. Idaho has one of the lowest average wages in America. We should be engaging the free market with fiscally responsible initiatives that attract and retain companies with stable, good paying jobs. The Legislature should consider programs that have delivered sustained economic success, such as those in Utah and other states.

3) Healthcare. It is essential we provide vital services to honest, hard-working citizens who are truly in need. The Legislature should approve Medicaid expansion. This will save Idaho taxpayers millions of dollars and ensure the most vulnerable among us are not the victims of political gamesmanship.
I support Medicaid expansion; it is the right and fiscally smart thing to do. The Legislature’s decision to kill it for the fourth consecutive year is costing taxpayers millions of dollars and inflicting real hardship on honest, deserving citizens and their families. I have met many people who fall within in the Medicaid Gap or have loved ones in that situation. It is truly heartbreaking, unnecessary and preventable.

By killing Medicaid expansion and deferring it to yet another study group for another year, incumbent politicians calculated it was more important to protect their political careers than to protect their constituents. Good, affordable public policy should always come before politics.
While other states invest in their children’s future, Idaho languishes at the bottom, having barely restored the education budget to where it was in 2009. Incumbent politicians has been continually shifting the cost of education from the state to homeowners by forcing property tax increases to close the gap they’ve created.

To improve go-on rates to higher education, we must revisit current fiscal policy and prioritize resources to attract and retain the best teachers. Our children deserve to be taught in an effective, productive learning environment – not in portable buildings with outdated text books, inadequate equipment and a constant shortage of basic supplies.

Our children cannot afford to suffer a single underfunded school year. These are their formative years, and every year is vital to their growth and development. The Legislature must always protect public education – even during challenging economic times. Our children deserve no less.
It is the height of hypocrisy for politicians to tell voters they believe government is best when it is closest to the people, while at the same time they enact laws that preempt or undo the will of the people at the local government level. These are the same politicians who selfishly overturned term limits enacted by the people via referendum not too long ago. In short, the Legislature is doing to local governments what they complain the federal government does to Idaho.

Taking ownership of federal lands is fiscally risky. The state would have to either raise taxes or sell public lands to private interests to cover the cost of managing the land, such as fighting forest fires each year. We must protect the ability of Idahoans to always enjoy our public lands – it’s why many of us want to live here. The last thing we should do is let a handful of career politicians take over our public lands and then sell them off to their well-connected friends and campaign contributors.
Oppose: 1) Raising property taxes by capping the homeowner exemption. 2) Failing to enact Medicaid expansion. 3) Raising state college/university tuition costs.

Support: 1) Reformed and improved Idaho public defense services. 2) Increased access to new treatments for severely ill patients. 3) Allowed on-line voter registration.

Government should take fiscally responsible actions that benefit the greatest number of people over the longest period of time in areas of public service beyond the capability or desire of the private sector. Too often we see incumbent politicians take actions that benefit the few in the short term instead of the many over the long term.
The proper role of the Idaho Legislature is to write the laws that govern its citizens. How well the current system works is driven more by the people elected to it than its actual structure. Democracy is not well served when any one political party has complete control of government for decades and can craft laws behind the closed doors of a caucus room. Democracy works best when there is transparency and a diversity of thought that challenges convention. Good ideas come from all directions, not just one.

One challenge of having a part-time Legislature is that it prevents most citizens from running for office. The only people who can usually consider serving in the Legislature are those who are retired, independently wealthy or don’t have to work during the winter. This limits the pool of talent available to serve. The Legislature should explore ways to make it feasible for more citizens to hold part-time elective office.
I have visited with thousands of voters at their door this year and am humbled to know that many people, regardless of their party affiliation, have said they will vote for me. While some people talk about who they plan to vote for at the top of the ballot, not a single person has said this is a factor when it comes to deciding who will represent them in the Idaho Legislature. Voters understand that although national politics gets all the attention, their daily lives are often more impacted by the people elected at the state level.

I encourage voters to learn about their local legislative candidates, consider the track record of the incumbents and vote for the State Senator and State Representatives who best reflect the changes and leadership they’d like to see in the Idaho Legislature.
Age 66
Education Bachelor's Degree - Political Science, University of California at Berkeley,1977; Law Degree, University of Idaho, 1980
Prior political experience Elected Representative, District 15 in 2006 and have served since then. Current service: Chair - Local Government Committee; Member - State Affairs, Judiciary and Rules, and House Ethics Committees. Prior service: Chair - House Ethics Committee (2013-2014); Vice-Chair - Judiciary and Rules Committee (2011-2014); Member - Health and Welfare Committee (2007-2010); Interim legislative committees: Urban Renewal (2008), Public Defense Reform (2013-2015), Health Care Task Force (2013-2015).
Civic involvement Volunteer professional service has been: Member - Idaho Appellate Rules Committee; Chair - Idaho State Bar Workers' Compensation Section; Member - Governor's Advisory Committee on Workers' Compensation; Chair - Workers' Compensation Specialist Certification Committee; Member - Idaho State Bar Fee Arbitration Panel; and Member - University of Idaho College of Law Advisory Council; Other volunteer service has included Boy Scouts, church, youth soccer referee, and president of neighborhood water association.
Years living in Idaho 46 years - born and raised in Idaho Falls until age 7, lived in Florida, California and Germany, have resided in Idaho since 1977.
Family Wife Helen Dahlquist, married 40 years, 8 children, 22 grandchildren.
My priorities are to 1) Focus on adequately providing for constitutionally required functions of state government such as public education and corrections, ensuring public safety, and managing public resources and infrastructure such as lands and transportation, 2) Maintain fiscal responsibility and a competitive economic climate by keeping a balanced budget and reserve funds, not increasing tax rates, reducing and simplifying taxes including eliminating the grocery tax, keeping a level playing field by opposing or eliminating special exemptions, and minimizing burdensome government regulation; and 3) Protect personal liberty from government overreach.
We need to build on resources already available in Idaho. Over 100 community and rural health clinics provide free, sliding scale or financially assisted services. Although imperfect, the CAT Fund is a unique Idaho resource available to assist with major medical events. Through the SHIP grant we are modifying Medicaid delivery to improve outcomes and reduce costs by shifting to a medical home, outcome based model in place of the traditional fee for service system. That change will not be fully implemented until 2020, but provides a more effective model for serving the gap population. The direct primary care act of 2015 which I cosponsored restores physician/patient relationships, eliminates government and insurance administrative expenses, and provides a low cost option for primary care. I support additional funding for our community and rural health clinics to implement medical home concepts, while exploring an acceptable Idaho-specific Medicaid waiver with flexibility to use innovative and cost effective tools. We should not expand traditional Medicaid which is a fiscally unsustainable program burdened by inflexible rules and spiraling budgets.
Idaho's Constitution mandates a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools. Teachers need to be fairly compensated and given appropriate tools in the classroom. I have supported increased funding for the teacher career ladder, technology and dual credit/advanced placement opportunities. We also have a constitutional requirement to balance the budget. Consequently, spending needs to be within reasonable financial demands upon taxpayers. Nevertheless, education is a constitutional priority and should be considered first over other programs. Regarding the go-on rate, students and their families need to be committed to higher education. Money, though necessary, is not a substitute for work and smart planning. Families and students should have better information and counseling on higher education options. That includes information on career tracks, advanced placement, scholarships, and financial planning. I am excited about legislation passed this year to provide scholarships to students earning college credit during high school, for early reading intervention, and putting school counselors on the career ladder. We need to continue these types of initiatives.
There is a misconception that local government has the same relationship to the state as the state has to the federal government. The relationships are legally different. Under the US Constitution the federal government was created by a grant of power from the states. It has only those powers delegated under the Constitution. Under the 10th Amendment the states and people retain all other authority not delegated. In contrast, local governments did not grant authority to the state. Rather, the people of the state under Article III, §1 of the Idaho Constitution granted all legislative authority to the Senate and the House, reserving only the right to directly enact or repeal law by initiative or referendum. Article XII, §2 grants counties and cities authority to make “regulations as are not in conflict with … the general laws.” Thus, all state laws preempt local authority unless otherwise provided, and the legislature by design has the authority and the obligation to determine what policies are of statewide importance. Regarding lands, I would like to see some pilot projects for state management of federal lands. This would require a cooperative agreement or federal legislation.
Opposed: 1) HB 431 eliminated the indexed home owner exemption, replacing it with a flat $100,000 cap. The bill shifts property tax burden to home owners from income properties such as agriculture, commercial and recreational properties. We need to reasonably protect citizens from being taxed out of their homes; 2) HB 487 added a presumption of injury to the employer in contract law governing breach of restrictive covenants by a key employee. I felt the provision as drafted was extreme and violates due process; 3) HB 514 added a new office of school safety and a related board. I supported the funding portion for additional safety but opposed this bill as an unnecessary growth of government. Schools gave positive reviews for the work already being done. I prefer putting money directly into schools rather than growing government. Supported: 1) Multiple education bills including career ladder, restoring discretionary funds, and early reading intervention; 2) HB 504 updates public defense services. I participated on the interim committee that formulated a unique Idaho solution; 3) HB 481 allows patients with a terminal diagnosis the right to try investigational drugs.
The role is to set state policy. I support the system, with emphasis on “part-time.” We do not need full-time professional legislators dependent upon a government paycheck for their regular livelihood. That leads to loss of independent analysis and judgment on issues. It increases incentive for legislators to vote for the paycheck over making the difficult decision. While there will always be criticism about legislators voting due to concern about keeping office, that would be exacerbated by creating a professional full-time legislature. The variety of experience brought together in a part-time citizen legislature adds value and protection to the citizens of the state. Not only is there a built in pool of expertise on a broad array of issues, but that experience remains fresh and current, rather than turning old and stale, which would occur as professional legislators absent themselves from ongoing day to day experience in the real working world. Finally, we do not need a full-time legislature looking for ways to justify its existence by pumping out more laws. Legislation is never pretty, but Idaho’s system works for its citizens as designed.
Donald Trump was not my personal choice, but I understand the frustration with elite politics that propelled him to the top of the ticket. Hillary Clinton has not proven to be trustworthy. Benghazi, Emails and the Clinton Foundation are just the beginning of her list of woes. There is no doubt that she will continue the Obama expansion of abusive executive orders and unrestrained agency actions that assault liberty in a host of ways. Trump’s bombastic, coarse rhetoric and verbal abuse reflect the worst of current culture. Neither candidate exhibits the integrity we should have in our President. Morally, each cancels the other out. Sadly, one will likely win, so we must look at policy. Trump understands that the US has lost its standing in the world because of weak foreign policy. He has promised to reign in costly bureaucratic regulation and abusive executive orders. Trump has shown prudence in selecting an excellent running mate. I do not trust the Clinton power machine to put the US first or to protect individual liberty. Trump offers more hope there. I am not endorsing any candidate. I think voters must prayerfully make their own decision on what choice is best for our nation.