Odds & Ends: Otter in Food Fight...Ahlquist Hiring...Craters of the Moon

A few thoughts on a few, somewhat random, topics...

Otter in on the Food Tax Veto Fight. The Idaho Supreme Court has let Gov. Butch Otter step into the middle of the lawsuit over the validity of his veto of the sales tax on food repeal bill. Right now the lawsuit is positioned as plaintiffs 30 Idaho state legislators suing Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. At issue is by what date must the governor use his veto power after the legislature adjourns.

Otter’s involvement is critical.  The Court has set June 15 as the day to hear oral arguments. That means that written briefs by both sides must be drafted and submitted in the next few weeks.

Usually, the most important part of the process is the written briefs.  Thus, if Otter was not involved, the fate of his veto power might rest with others.

Now, he will have a chance to vigorously and credibly argue that the Court should uphold a 1978 case involving former Governor Cecil Andrus and two of his vetoes. The Court there held that the 10-day period in which a veto may occur begins to run once the Legislature presents a proposed bill to the governor.

Tommy Ahlquist Makes a Big Hire. GOP 2018 gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist gave himself a leg up by hiring just-departed Idaho Republican Party executive David Johnston.  Still in his 20s, Johnston is well connected with Idaho’s Republican grassroots throughout Idaho.

He deserves substantial credit for Idaho GOPs substantial strength in 2016 legislative races, virtually wiping out Idaho Democrats in the Legislature north of Boise.

Ahlquist is spending big to be the Republican nominee for governor in 2018.  I have personally now received three direct mail pieces from him and he has a considerable online presence.

Hiring Johnston moves the Ahlquist campaign beyond just paid media to a potentially viable and vital ground effort. Expect to see Johnston’s fingerprints manifest shortly.

Trump Reviewing Expansion of Craters of the Moon National Monument. On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Interior releases a list of 27 national monuments that are being reviewed by the Trump Administration.  One is Craters of the Moon National Monument here in Idaho.

In 2000, President Clinton expanded Craters of the Moon from 53,545 acres to 464,303 acres.

It looks like the Department of Interior will revisit that 2000 expansion. Some have complained that expansion was too large and interfered with grazing and other previous uses.  Of note, the 2000 expansion area currently allows for hunting which not usually provided for on such land.

The more interesting point is that local residents are currently clamoring for a national park designation for Craters of the Moon.

It would be interesting if out of this process a recommendation was generated by Trump for a conversion of Craters of the Moon to a national park.

Here’s my theory why that might occur. The Trump administration may need a way to soften likely reductions in other national monuments, in particular the Bear’s Ears National Monument and possibly the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com).  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy.  He can be reached atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..