While there are a number of complicated issues raised by that case, as with many eminent domain cases, it is the dispute over attorney fees that really caught my attention.
As reported in the article, the private attorney hired by the Idaho Transportation Department to litigate on its behalf is now seeking approximately $1.1 million (nearly twice the determined value of the land in dispute) from the landowner to pay for ITD’s attorney fees in the case.
You read that correctly: ITD essentially wants the landowner to pay ITD for taking the landowner’s property against the landowner’s wishes.
For more information about this case and about the constitutional requirements for “just compensation” please click HERE.
The great thing about having been around awhile is that you get to understand the habits of lawmakers during good times and bad.
During bad times, lawmakers struggle to pay for government services. They prioritize. They remove dead wood. They consider alternatives.
During “good times,” they spend. They spend a lot. They often overspend. This is where we are today.
The economy in Idaho, as in other states, has picked up a bit. I wouldn’t say that the glory days, the period after the 2003 recession and before the economic downturn of 2008, are back. In fact, in many respects, Obama administration policies are prolonging the “bad times.” That doesn’t stop lawmakers from confusing the two.
As a result, Idaho is on the brink of a spending spree. Minus the tricks and budget gimmicks, our general fund spending may even exceed $3 billion for the first time. And I’ll be more than happy to help identify which legislators contributed to that milestone.
Furthermore, the state continues the policy of “see federal money, get federal money.” Our reliance on federal money is not sustainable.
As we arrive at Mardi Gras, it is a bit unfortunate that lawmakers think the theme of this year’s legislative session is Laissez les bons temps rouler. French Cajun, for “Let the good times roll,” which is fine for New Orleans this week, not so fine with for Idaho taxpayers.
Imagine trying to decide between your health and your car payment, or your rent, or food. Sadly, people go through this every day. Advocates of Big Government would say the answer is, unsurprisingly, more government. But that’s not the case. Charity clinics offer health care to those that need it, when they need it.
Center for Defense of Liberty director, Geoff Talmon, testifies on ‘justice reinvestment’ legislation
Geoffrey Talmon, attorney for the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for Defense of Liberty, said IFF “organization supports the reform effort, but we believe the bill needs some revisions. We believe there needs to be a clearer distinction between violent and nonviolent behavior. I like the idea that there is the presumption that if you make a mistake, we can offer correction and put you back on the right path. We need some more clarity on the category distinctions.”
Watch his full comments on the “justice reinvestment” legislation below:
One move made by House Speaker Scott Bedke this session deserves praise: Bedke has made it easier for members of the public to visit their legislators. This is a big deal, maybe the biggest deal.
For the last couple of legislative sessions, House members and their offices have been under lock and key. If you wanted to talk to your state representative, you’d have to have an appointment and get a security guard to unlock the door leading to your legislator’s office. Call it a tragic result of the Statehouse renovation, which provided all legislators with either their own office or a cubicle from which to conduct the people’s business.
This session, Bedke has taken the barriers down just a smidgeon, but enough to be noticeable. Security remains tight, but there really is nothing stopping people from dropping in on the Legislature, looking up their legislator and paying a visit. No doubt Bedke has received some flak from lawmakers who’d rather be left alone, or who are skeptical of public intent. But most legislators I talk to welcome the interaction, without hesitation.
Bedke’s decision to open the House offices is also consistent with the vision of our state Constitution, which gives Idahoans the undeniable right “to instruct their representatives, and to petition the legislature for the redress of grievances.”