Idaho Gov. Butch Otter pledged two years ago to explore all options for stopping Obamacare, including nullification.
Nullification is the political view, never supported in the courts, that a state has the right to declare a law of the federal government null and void. In his State of the State address Monday, Otter told lawmakers that Obamas Affordable Health Care Act is the law of the land and will be for the foreseeable future.
And as responsible elected officials were sworn to uphold the rule of law not just those laws that we support, Otter said.
Thats why he decided to pursue a state-based health insurance exchange as provided under the federal health care law, he said. It preserves for the state a place at the table where it can better defend its states rights.
Otter made the case on the same day that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Idaho roadless rule that protects 9.3 million acres of roadless national forest. The rule was developed by the state and negotiated by Republican Sen. Jim Risch when he was governor with local officials, conservation groups, the timber industry and recreation groups.
The rule has varying levels of protections that set it apart from the national roadless rule put in place for 58 million acres in 2001 by President Bill Clinton. Idaho sued and lost a challenge to the Clinton rule in the same 9th Circuit that later upheld the Idaho rule.
Otter announced the court victory at the end of his prepared State of the State speech, to a round of applause from lawmakers. The success came, he said, because we stayed at the table.
Risch said the Idaho roadless rule started by then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, negotiated by Risch and finalized under Otter is a model for governing.
I think people will look back at this as a turning point in how environmental issues are done, Risch said.
In addition to the health exchange, Otter has used the model for his efforts to write a state sage grouse plan to prevent an Endangered Species Act listing for the bird, which lives on millions of acres of southern Idaho desert and farmland. Otter is trying to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to sign off on Idahos plan, which also was negotiated by a group including conservationists, ranchers and companies such as Idaho Power that seek to build transmission lines.
Wildfire is considered one of the biggest threats to sage grouse in Idaho. Otter proposed Monday spending $400,000 to help create four volunteer fire-protection associations like one formed by Mountain Home-area ranchers in 2012. These associations can provide a first strike in areas hard to reach by the Bureau of Land Management, the Idaho Department of Lands or rural fire districts.
Health exchanges and Obamacare are very different from the environmental issues Otter cited, said Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and an advocate of nullification.
Rocky Barker: 377-6484