From the April 2000 Idaho Observer:

Nut cases need only apply for state jobs

Senate passes another bill for “special” people in government

BOISE -- Governor Dirk Kempthorne announced in his state of the state speech last January that he would endorse a law that makes it a capitol crime to kill a cop (but just an ordinary crime to kill a citizen?).

In the land of the free where the rights of the individual were supreme and we understand a self evident truth that all men are created equal, we have all these special laws for special people. The following is simply crazy. We soon have a law that we must pay the medical insurance premiums for state employees “with serious mental illness”?

One has to wonder who would have drafted this bill and why? Just how many seriously mentally ill state employees are we talking about here to warrant a law being passed to accommodate them? HEALTH AND WELFARE

STATE EMPLOYEES - Adds to existing law to provide that state employees with serious mental illnesses must not be discriminated against in group disability insurance benefits or group health care service coverages; to define “serious mental illness”; to provide requirements for coverage of serious mental illness; to provide for a report to the Legislature of additional costs incurred to provide the coverage; and to provide a sunset date.

AYES -- Boatright, Branch, Bunderson, Burtenshaw, Crow, Danielson, Darrington, Davis, Deide, Dunklin, Frasure, Geddes, Hawkins, Ingram, Ipsen, Keough, King-Barrutia, McLaughlin, Noh, Parry, Richardson, Riggs, Risch, Sandy, Schroeder, Sorensen, Stegner, Stennett, Thorne, Wheeler, Whitworth, Williams

NAYS -- Cameron, Lee

Absent and excused -- Andreason

This bill, as absurd as it is, passed through the senate and as of 03/22/00, it is being discussed in the House Health and Welfare Committee. Note the senators who voted in favor of this bill and remember them when they want your vote next time.

SECTION 1. FINDINGS OF THE LEGISLATURE. The Legislature of the State of Idaho finds that:

(1) Unequal health insurance coverage contributes to the destructive and unfair stigmatization of persons with serious mental illnesses which are beyond the control of the individuals in the same manner as cancer, diabetes and other serious physical health problems;

(2) Schizophrenia strikes nearly one percent (1%) of Idahoans over the course of their lifetimes and approximately thirty percent (30%) of all hospitalized psychiatric patients in the United States suffer from this most disabling group of mental disorders;

(3) Left untreated, serious mental illnesses are some of the most disabling and destructive illnesses afflicting Idahoans;

(4) Studies have found that up to ninety percent (90%) of all persons who commit suicide suffer from a treatable serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, depression or manic-depressive illness;

(5) Seventy percent (70%) to eighty percent (80%) of those suffering from depression respond quickly to treatment and eighty percent (80%) of the victims of schizophrenia can be relieved of acute symptoms with proper medication; and

(6) Approximately ninety-five percent (95%) of what is known about both normal and abnormal functions of the brain has been learned in the past ten (10) years, but millions of seriously mentally ill people have yet to benefit from these research advances.

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