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

Bingham County to vote on joining CEI. In May, Bonneville County voters decided with 71.4% of the vote to turn Eastern Idaho Technical College into the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI). 

Thanks to the Bingham County Republican Party, Bingham County will vote in November whether to join the community college district for CEI.

Last Thursday, the State Board of Education, based on signatures gathered by the local GOP and the support of the new board of trustees for the new college, approved putting the measure on the November ballot.

The driving force has been county Republican Party chair Dan Craven. He has been relentless in pushing the issue forward as a way boost high school dual credit opportunities and eliminate a $50 a credit hour surcharge for Bingham County residents that will be paid by students/taxpayers if the county is outside the district.

Craven told the Idaho State Journal that:  “Because our employment rate is so low, we have people looking for work but they don’t have the proper skillsets. If we can train folks for these jobs, it’s a win-win. Citizens have additional opportunities and businesses and industries are no longer bottlenecked because they can’t find the right talent.”

Beck v. Gagner Lawsuit Round One. Prominent Idaho Falls area business and Republican political force Doyle Beck is suing former State Rep. Lee Gagner (of Idaho Falls) for defamation.  At issue is a rumor (that was apparently inaccurate) Gagner passed on while on the Idaho Transportation Board alleging nonpayment of fuel taxes at the Idaho Falls airport by Beck.

Last week, a jury was picked and Seventh District Judge Dane Watkins, Jr. oversaw several days of contentious testimony including claims that Beck was targeted for opposing Gov. Otter in 2014. On Thursday I was able to peek in the windows for a few moments.

Everything ground to a halt Thursday when Watkins declared a mistrial after he allowed Beck to amend his complaint to add a claim for punitive damages.  The reason?  Punitive damages analysis requires disclosure of the defendants’ net worth which had not occurred. So, the parties now need to share information before the trial can be conducted.

Expect a lively Round Two later this year or the first of next year.

Is Idaho in Range of North Korean Missiles? Tension between the United States and North Korea has spiked in the past few weeks. Could the North Koreans hit Idaho once they perfect their missiles, reentry vehicles and warheads? 

The answer is yes.  The longest-range North Korean missiles being tested can reach about 6,500 miles which would put Idaho just within range.

But, it is questionable whether any Idaho target would draw the focus of Kim Jong Un when Anchorage, Honolulu, Seattle and Portland and numerous U.S. military bases are in range.

The U.S. in the short term needs to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea.  The U.N. sanctions to cut off one-third of the country’s exports will hurt. But, long term, it is critical to bolster U.S. missile defense systems (based on ground based interceptors) and push forward more exotic technologies like energy weapons to mitigate the threat itself.

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 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..