Budget Setting is Complete
Budget setting is complete! We are nine weeks into the session and near the point where we will be wrapping up soon. However, before we do, the recommendations made by myself and fellow members of JFAC must now pass both the House and Senate. If any of the budgets are rejected, JFAC will reconvene to reset the failed agency budget. While we keep our fingers crossed that it does not happen, our committee will meet between now and the end of session to work on any recent laws that require funding.
The mood of the legislature seems to be changing as we quickly approach the expected March 25 Sine Die (a Latin word that means adjournment of business or proceedings and is used to signify the last day of the legislature). There is still some pretty heavy legislative lifting to be done before we go home. In addition to passing the budgets, we must find money and look at possibly adding conditions to the Medicaid expansion. In the past few days new bills have surfaced that have started serious conversations.
Another important piece of legislation is the public school funding formula. As your elected leaders, we recognized the need to change this formula several years ago and have been working on it for the last three years. The committee has heard from the public over the past several months and has received considerable input in support and opposition. I can’t say yet how this will end, so stay tuned as this one will take some work to get passed.
On a lighter note, I had the great privledge of speaking to this year’s Leadership Nampa class from the Nampa Chamber of Commerce. We took a quick tour of the Capitol during their visit, but more importantly we had a great discussion. I can say firsthand and as an alumnus of the first Leadership Nampa class, I have great appreciation for the Chamber and all the work it takes to put on this fantastic program. Now for my shameless plug… if you haven’t participated in it, you should!
I would like to encourage you to log onto legislature.idaho.gov where you will find bills, committee recordings and live stream videos of our House and Senate floor sessions.
I like hearing from you about important legislation, so please continue to be involved so we can ensure good work is being completed by your legislature. Lastly, don't forget to connect with me on Facebook.
Idaho Day at the Capitol
On Monday, Legislators celebrated Idaho Day in the Capitol. Idaho Day, March 4th, was established in 2014 to commemorate the creation of the Idaho Territory by President Abraham Lincoln on that day in 1863. Each year, Idaho Day is enjoyed across the Gem State by schools, universities, state agencies, and other organizations. In both the House and Senate, performances and speeches were given to commemorate this special day. In the Senate Chambers, students from Madison High School sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and our state song “Here We Have Idaho”; speeches were given by Senators highlighting the uniqueness of their respective hometowns. In the House Chambers, performances were given by Roosevelt Elementary 4th grade students. A special thanks to the Association of Idaho Cities, Brigadier General Garshak, Command Sergeant Major Scott White and the Idaho Army National Guard Honor Guard who also assisted in the House ceremonies. Click here to learn more about Idaho Day.
Legislation for National Medal of Honor Highway
Lawmakers have introduced legislation to designate 411 miles of Highway 20 as the “National Medal of Honor Highway”. This highway is the longest interstate highway in the United States, stretching from Oregon to Massachusetts. Crossing Idaho’s southern border, Highway 20 starts near Parma and ends on Targhee Pass before entering Montana. Legislators are proposing to designate Idaho’s portion of Highway 20 with the title “National Medal of Honor Highway” with a larger plan in mind. Backers of this legislation hope that all states along Route 20 will eventually rename their sections in honor of our bravest heroes.
The Idaho Department of Transportation has agreed to fund the project, which includes purchasing six to eight signs that would be placed on both sides of the highway from Parma to just west of Yellowstone. This bill unanimously passed the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s office for signing. The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration. It is awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. Click here to read more.
Idaho Dairymen’s Association
The Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) met with Legislators this week to discuss important issues for the dairy industry and the agricultural industry at large. The association started meeting in 1924 with the aim to develop and sustain an economically viable Idaho dairy industry. Today, Idaho is one of the largest dairy producers in the United States. Idaho’s dairy leaders are committed to strengthening their communities and the entire state through a strong dairy industry.
Each year the Idaho Dairymen’s Association meets with Legislators to inform them of their legislative agenda. The IDA falls under the umbrella of the United Dairymen of Idaho (UDI), which was formed in 1980. The IDA’s main focus is to work with the industry and on projects related to government. Today, the Idaho Dairymen’s Association works at the local, state, regional and federal levels to protect and promote the legislative and regulatory interests of its members. Click here for more information.
Idaho Behavioral Health Alliance at the Capitol
The Idaho Behavioral Health Alliance met in the Capitol rotunda Thursday with legislators to educate them on policies and priorities relating to behavioral health in Idaho. This year Legislators discussed issues such as Medicaid expansion and how it relates to the behavioral health population which the Alliance representatives. The priorities of the Alliance are meant to integrate behavioral health into primary care, create access to treatment, and increase services for those in underserved communities.
Dr. David Moss gives presentation on the U.S. Constitution at the Capitol
Dr. David Moss, a professor at Harvard University’s Business School, visited Idaho’s Capitol last week to present his lecture on the U.S. Constitution. As the guest of The McClure Center, Dr. Moss gave a presentation in the Lincoln Auditorium entitled, “Bringing History to Life: Creating the U.S. Constitution.” Dr. Moss is the author of Democracy: A Case Study, which is an in-depth study on the history of American democracy. This case study grew out of a course he created for Harvard undergraduates and business school students. Today, both the course and the historical case studies are being introduced to high schools as part of the High School Case Method Project, which the professor oversees at Harvard Business School. At the Capitol, Dr. Moss met with 20 Idaho teachers who are using his high school curriculum in their schools.