Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, July 29, 2005

SENATE APPROVES NATIONAL SEX OFFENDERS REGISTRY BILL

Craig votes for bill, “hopes and prays this will stop another tragedy”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate unanimously approved legislation tonight to improve the availability of information on sex offenders.

S. 792, commonly called Dru’s Law, establishes a publicly available registry via the Internet and requires significant monitoring of known violent sex offenders judged to be at high risk for re-offending. In addition, violent sex offenders who are at high risk for re-offending could remain institutionalized even after completing their prison term.
Idaho Senator Larry Craig said, “As we all know, the nation witnessed one of Idaho’s most tragic events in the Groene case – an event that highlighted the need for this legislation. While I grimace at any federal mandate to states, the interstate nature of these cases and the tragic results of any failures warrant it. I hope and pray this will prevent another tragedy like the Groene case.”

Friday, July 22, 2005

Cowboy up

by Senator Larry Craig and Congressman C.L. “Butch” Otter

If you've ever tuned your radio to a country-western station, chances are you've heard the Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings classic "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." That title has always struck us as strange advice, because the lines of the song don't truly capture the spirit of the West and the men and women who settled it - the cowboys. Most cowboys we know are people who young folks ought to look up to.

On May 12, 2005, in order to recognize and encourage "the contributions made by cowboys to their communities," the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating Saturday, July 23, 2005 as "National Day of the American Cowboy. " Having ranching in our blood, we both agree this was a fitting tribute to a way of life that still plays such a large and important role in Idaho.

Growing up, practically every young child dreams of being a cowboy, even if only for a little while. We looked up to cowboys as role models and heroes - people we should try to emulate some day. In some parts of the country though, the term "cowboy" is applied as an insult or a joke, suggesting that someone is simple, dull, or unsophisticated. In Idaho and across the West, however, we understand that simple isn't a bad thing, and that a life in the saddle may not be glamorous, but it often is far from dull.

While ranchers operate around the globe, the cowboy is truly an American symbol, as much a part of our national history as the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. They played a vital role in crossing and settling the American West, and define who and what we are as a nation.

The qualities most often associated with cowboys - strength, hard work, honesty, integrity, courage and patriotism - are qualities that are essential to a thriving civil society. Cowboys understand justice, but they don't take the law into their own hands. They believe a man's word is his bond, and they look for the best in the people around them.

Contrary to popular legend, the picture of the lonely wanderer is the romanticized version of the cowboy, not the true story. Cowboys work together as a team, not alone. It's nearly impossible to round up cattle when there's only one person to do it. Only through teamwork can the herd be brought in, and the calves vaccinated and branded. As a result, and as a habit, cowboys look out for the good of others, not just themselves.

Although the National Day of the American Cowboy may have passed by the time most of you have had a chance to read this, we encourage you to celebrate the cowboy qualities that have become such defining characteristics of Americans of all walks of life. Mammas, we think you'd do well to let those babies grow up to be cowboys.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

At Your Fingertips

by Senator Larry Craig

As I write this, the newest Harry Potter book is scheduled to go on sale in just a few short hours. In some parts of the country, people started lining up many hours, or even days before sales were set to begin. What has become a commonplace practice – waiting hours upon hours to be able to buy a book – was completely unheard of when I was growing up. It was unheard of 10 years ago!

Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see young people with a renewed interest in reading today, because it is such a vital part of a child’s education. Developing strong reading skills can unlock the gate to creative development and learning in all academic fields. Recent statistics from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reflect this renewed interest, showing that 9-year olds’ reading skills have risen since 1971, and the largest improvements have come in the last five years.

Parents, if you don’t already, I encourage you to read with your children as much as possible. Reading together not only provides you with an opportunity to spend time together, it helps stimulate a child’s imagination and the desire to either learn to read themselves, or to become better readers in the future. There are many studies that have been published over the years that document the benefits children receive from reading with an adult. You provide them with a role model and demonstrate many of the qualities required to mature into an adult.

If you aren’t sure what to read with your child, or how to encourage them to read themselves, visit the website for the U.S. Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov. There is a section for parents, with links to publications to help you choose books to read with your children and tips to instill a love of reading in them.

I love to read whenever I have a few minutes of free time. I always enjoy a good novel, but I also enjoy reading biographies about our Founding Fathers and other historical Americans. These give me a greater understanding of our great nation and the vision that great men like George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson had for the United States of America. And reading books about men like Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery remind me of some of the great accomplishments in our history, and what a huge achievement it was to settle the West and what became our State of Idaho.

Reading has enriched my life, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Sir Richard Steele accurately stated that “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” and Mark Twain said “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”

Summer is a great time for kids of all ages to crack open a book and keep the mind sharp. And it’s never too early to start reading with your children.

For all you kids out there, it’s half way through the summer! Did your teacher give you a reading list for the break? If so, have you looked at it? I remember that when I was a kid, the summer was always packed full of fun things to do, and I know it still is. But there are also plenty of opportunities to read and let your imagination run wild. You can go to all sorts of interesting and far-away places, and meet lots of famous and interesting people – without leaving your favorite seat at the local library. With a book, it’s all at your fingertips.

Friday, July 15, 2005

DELEGATION RESPONDS TO NAS STUDY

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho’s Congressional Delegation offered the following statement on the National Academies’ report entitled, “Superfund and Mining Megasites: Lessons from the Coeur d’Alene River Basin:”

"From the beginning, our goal in pursuing this NAS assessment was ensuring that the EPA used the best possible science to reach its conclusions. We appreciate it identifying areas of concern, including the need for greater focus on upstream hot spots in the environmental remediation and more consideration of how previous EPA work inside the Box has influenced conditions downstream. The NAS call for a more flexible, efficient and effective problem-solving approach by the EPA is also encouraging. We remain committed to working with the Basin Commission in monitoring this process, and to ensuring that the well-being of the people of the Coeur d'Alene Basin is its highest priority."

The full report is available at http://www.nas.edu.

HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS APPROVED BY SENATE

Craig secures increases in Border Patrol agents, detention beds, enforcement efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved the fiscal year 2006 Homeland Security appropriations bill today. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the subcommittee that wrote the bill, supported the legislation to enhance homeland security efforts and immigration enforcement.

The bill continues the process of adding the 500 new Border Patrol Agents required by the Byrd-Craig Amendment to the FY 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, and provides for 1,000 more agents, for a total of 1,500 new agents, bringing total Border Patrol strength to 12,449 in FY 2006, up from 10,949 in FY 2005. It also increases the total number of beds at immigration detention centers to more than 22,000, an increase of more than 2,200, and steps up other immigration enforcement efforts domestically.
“The first, fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to protect the American people through a strong national defense and effective homeland security,” Craig said. “Border security and immigration reform are essential elements of providing for a secure homeland. We need to do more to improve our border security and immigration enforcement. However, it's important for Americans to understand that this Congress is making significant progress in this area. The FY 2006 bill that is before us represents a quantum leap forward in that effort.”
The major homeland security activities in the $31 billion bill include Customs and Border Protection; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; support for state and local anti-terrorism and emergency response programs; and national emergency preparedness.

Significant counter-terrorism measures include airline safety, baggage security, and transit protection initiatives of the Transportation Security Administration; and science and technology research and development of biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear countermeasures; critical infrastructure protection; and cyber security.

The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference to resolve the differences between the respective versions of the bill passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A House Built on Sand

by Senator Larry Craig

Every homebuilder and carpenter knows that the most important part of building a home is the part that comes first – laying the foundation. Without a solid base, the most carefully built home will soon sag and crumble. Unfortunately, some Americans may soon find their homes pulled from beneath them like a rug.

The protection of private property against government seizure is a foundational principle in this country, which is why I have long worked for private property rights in my time the U.S. House of Representatives and now the U.S. Senate.

Our Founders believed the right of individuals to acquire, possess and use property is one of the natural rights that does not depend on government for its existence; on the contrary, governments were formed, in part, to protect that right. Those early citizens also saw the right to private property as the key to spurring individual initiative and productivity that would ensure national prosperity and security.

For these reasons, the concept of property and the importance of its protection permeates the Constitution. There are references to it throughout the document, in addition to the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that property will not be taken by the government unless it is for the public use and fair compensation is paid.

That firm foundation was badly shaken recently by the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London. This decision will allow local authorities to take property purely for economic development. In doing so, the Supreme Court abandoned the “public use” requirement, effectively eliminating the Fifth Amendment protection for private property.

It’s particularly baffling to see the Supreme Court eliminate a guarantee that is specifically enumerated in the Constitution, when the same court has historically been willing to conjure rights not mentioned anywhere in the document, such as the “right to privacy.” One of the dissenting Justices found that example especially noteworthy, pointing out that after Kelo, while we are still secure inside our homes from government intrusion, the homes themselves are not!

Congress was quick to react to the Kelo decision. Measures were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to prevent the federal government from taking private property for economic development. The Senate bill, “The Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005,” which I am cosponsoring, also restricts the ability of local governments from using federal funding for that purpose. I will do all I can to update our laws so the federal government or its resources cannot diminish private property rights.

Unfortunately, the problem cannot be completely solved on the federal level. It will be up to individual state legislatures to restrict their respective states from using state tax dollars in the same way. Stay tuned to see if this becomes an issue for the Idaho State Legislature.

Private property is not just the physical foundation of our country; it is our historical, philosophical, and economic foundation, as well. It supports the common good with taxes, and allows individuals to achieve the American dream.

Mankind has known for thousands of years that a solid foundation is absolutely necessary for a solid structure, with references even appearing in the Bible. The Founders understood that the protection of private property must be the bedrock of our free society. However, the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision has turned that foundation to sand.

Friday, July 01, 2005

CRAIG COMMENTS ON O’CONNOR RESIGNATION

Applauds her service to the United States

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Senator Larry Craig offered the following comments on the resignation of Sandra Day O’Connor from the United States Supreme Court:

“Justice O’Connor has served our country well in her 24 years on the Court. Her reputation for fairness, justice, and devotion to the public good is well deserved, and I am confident she will continue to serve America in other ways.”
For more information on judicial nominations, please visit Senator Craig’s Judicial Nominations Special Report at http://craig.senate.gov/report_judicialnom.htm.

SENATE SUPPORTS INL, IDAHO WATER PROJECTS

Includes Generation IV reactor, cleanup, research, and water projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate approved a slew of energy and water projects for Idaho today. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Subcommittee that wrote the bill, released a list of projects that are included:

  • Idaho Advanced Cogeneration Reactor ($40 million) – Continued development of the Next Generation Nuclear plant at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
  • Advanced Test Reactor Fuel Fabrication and Long Range Operating Plan ($13.5 million) – Fuel and a long-range plan to continue to operate the Advanced Test Reactor at the INL
  • Idaho Accelerator Center at Idaho State University ($4 million)
  • National SCADA Test Bed at the INL ($5 million) – Operation of a facility to test Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, a critical component of our energy infrastructure
  • Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative ($7 million) – New funding for testing at INL of hydrogen production systems, which coincide with the development of Next Generation Nuclear Power plants
  • Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative ($85 million) – A national program with significant work performed at INL, to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable the transition to a stable, long-term, environmentally and politically acceptable advanced nuclear fuel cycle
  • Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering ($4.5 million) – Partnership with the three Idaho universities to revitalize nuclear engineering education in Idaho.
  • Environment Management at the Idaho Cleanup Project ($544 million) – A $13 million increase above the Administration’s budget proposal
  • Inland Northwest Research Alliance (INRA) ($1.5 million) - INRA is a non-profit scientific and educational organization consisting of eight Western research universities, including BSU, ISU, and U of I. Funds will be used to support collaborative work between INRA and INL on the Subsurface Science Research Institute.
  • Synchronous Wind Turbines ($500,000) -- Research on sustainable energy utilization and production focusing on distributed wind technology systems
  • Indian Creek Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration ($3.3 million) – An integral component of the City of Caldwell’s downtown redevelopment
  • Rural Idaho Water Projects ($5.5 million) – Including water projects at Emmett, Burley, Rupert, Bonners Ferry, Donnelly, Driggs, Smelterville, and the Eastern Idaho Wastewater Authority
  • Paradise Creek Ecosystem Restoration ($250,000) – Restoration and rehabilitation of certain reaches of Paradise Creek in Moscow, Idaho
  • Lower Boise River ($200,000) – Water resource management and use study of the Lower Boise River
  • Dworshak Reservoir Improvements ($2.464 million) – Operation, maintenance, and improvements of facilities.
Other ongoing water projects around Idaho within the Corps of Engineers or Bureau of Reclamation: Salmon River, Challis ($611,000); Albeni Falls Dam ($1.792 million); Lucky Peak Lake ($2.567 million); Boise Area Projects ($5 million); Columbia and Snake Rivers Salmon Project ($17.5 million); Idaho Investigations ($548,000); Minidoka Area Projects ($6.318 million)

Senator Craig praised the projects, “Each of these projects represents a fiscally responsible priority for the federal government. From increasing our energy independence through expanding nuclear energy to improving our water infrastructure, Idahoans win with this bill.
“I am especially pleased with the commitment to the Generation IV Reactor at INL. The Senate recognizes the impact this technology and the reactor will have on our nation. ”
The bill now goes before a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House of Representatives bills.

CRAIG TO VOTE NO ON CAFTA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig announced today that he will vote no on CAFTA. The Senate is expected to vote later this evening on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Craig declared, “I supported granting the President ‘fast-track’ authority in 2002. Since then I have voted for two of the three trade agreements that have come before the Senate. I worked diligently with the Administration as they negotiated CAFTA in order to ensure it will protect U.S. interests while expanding our opportunities for trade.
“While there are many positives in CAFTA, we should not trade one aspect of our economy for another. We ought not pick winners and losers, and CAFTA does. This agreement sacrifices our sugar industry – a vital component of rural, southern Idaho.

“In addition, I have never seen a trade agreement that doesn’t give some of our sovereignty to another country. While I appreciate the last-minute effort the Administration spearheaded to address the concerns of the sugar industry, it was too late. I had hoped the Administration could have withdrawn and started over on CAFTA. That is not an option I have been given, so I will have to vote against CAFTA.”
Idaho’s sugar industry employs 7,000 to 8,000 people and generates nearly $800 million in annual economic activity.

CRAIG PRAISES NEW FERC CHAIRMAN

President chooses Joseph Kelliher to be Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig issued the following reaction today to President Bush’s choice for Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:
“The energy industry has endured much turbulence during the past four years and needs stable regulatory leadership. The President has selected the right man for the job. Joe Kelliher, as Chairman of the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, will provide knowledgeable, judicious, and mature political leadership at that agency. Joe is one of the most respected experts of utility law in the country and I look forward to working with him on the many challenging issues that the Commission will face in the months and years ahead.”
For more information on what Senator Craig is doing on energy issues, please read his Energy Resources Issue Brief.

CRAIG SAYS NO TO PROPERTY GRAB

Cosponsors bill to undermine Supreme Court’s recent eminent domain decision

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig joined a number of his colleagues today, including the rest of the Idaho Congressional Delegation, in cosponsoring legislation to protect citizens from some federal land grabs.

Last week the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Kelo v. City of New London Connecticut in which it significantly expanded the power of governments to seize private property. Idaho Senator Larry Craig is disturbed by the decision, offering the following commentary, “The Supreme Court has seriously weakened the Constitutional protection of private property rights. Allowing the eminent domain power to be used for private to private transfers for nothing more than economic development effectively eliminates that portion of the Fifth Amendment. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court came to such a conclusion that will have a dramatic impact on private property rights.”

In order to right the wrong, Craig joined the efforts of Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, who introduced S. 1313, the Protection of Homes, Small Business, and Private Property Act of 2005. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is also a cosponsor, and Idaho’s Congressmen cosponsored a similar measure in the House. The legislation dictates that the federal government cannot use eminent domain to seize property for purely economic development.

Since the legislation only applies to the federal government, Craig urged states to take similar action, “I urge all state legislatures to offer similar legislation to protect property owners against this erosion of the foundation of our way of life.”

The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.