Suicide Coalition Bringing Awareness
As week 8 of the legislative session comes to an end, I am proud to say that we are making good progress setting the state's budgets. JFAC is expecting to complete its primary agency budget work next week. This week we approved several budgets including Medicaid, which is the state’s largest total fund, rounding out to $2.8 billion.
Over the course of the session we’ve heard from many of you. One concern is that we need to review how much the state pays some of its providers who care for some of our most vulnerable people. The costs of providing the right care has increased, but in many cases the state has not adjusted its rates over the past decade. This year’s Medicaid budget includes the needed rate increases for those who care for:
Our developmentally disabled adults and children
Our dentists who accept Medicaid patients
Our non-emergency transporters who provide rides for our sick and disabled to their medical appointments
Our intermediate care facilities who treat our most vulnerable children
This year an unusually high number of provider increases were presented, indicating that we are in crisis over these low rates. This tells me that our departments need to do a better job of staying on top of these issues and address them in a more measured and planned manner. I had the great opportunity to present this massive budget for final approval in our committee meeting. The group who worked on setting this budget are dedicated to the mission of better serving the people of Idaho and work very hard to set an appropriate budget.
In addition, this week I sponsored the Military Division and Idaho State Police budgets. It is a great honor to recommend budgets that support those who put their lives on the line everyday to keep us safe. 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 am proud of the work being done this year by the legislative branch and your involvement is important! Lastly, don't forget to connect with me on Facebook.
Foster Care Awareness Day at the Capitol
This Thursday, service providers from around the state gathered at the Capitol rotunda in support of Foster Care Awareness Day. Hosted by Idaho Voices for Children, Family Advocates, and Casey Family Programs, lawmakers met for a legislative breakfast to discuss important issues related to foster care. Later that morning, Governor Little presented a Proclamation for Foster Care Awareness Day and expressed his concern and passion in the caring and protecting for our children in need.
Thursday afternoon the Child Welfare Review Panel met in the Capitol’s Lincoln Auditorium to discuss important issues in foster care and public health as well as listen to youth share their accomplishments, concerns and ideas about their personal experiences in foster care. Click here for more on the Child Protective Act and how the Child Welfare Review Panel was formed through last year’s legislation.
Career Technical Education in Idaho
The Senate voted unanimously this week to approve Senate Bill 1105 (SB1105), which provides career technical education opportunities for middle school and high school students. Sixty percent of all new jobs require post-secondary training; however, many students believe that a four-year college degree is the only path to these jobs. The reality is that many of the new job requirements are met through other forms of technical education. Although many have recognized the need for more Career Technical Education (CTE) in Idaho, challenges have included the costs involved and access in rural areas.
To counter this challenge, SB1105 provides legislation that utilizes the existing Advanced Opportunities Program which already pays for CTE certification exams. This new legislation provides access to CTE courses in addition to the certification component alone. Students can gain valuable training as well as industry-recognized credentials and the confidence needed to enter the workforce. In short, the Idaho Legislature is trying to create a win-win scenario for Idaho students, families, communities and the Idaho workplace. Click here to read SB1105
Suicide Prevention Advocacy Day at the Capitol
As the 8th leading cause of death in the state, Idaho lost 392 residents to suicide in 2017. On Tuesday, Legislators met with members of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition. This coalition acts as a statewide resource for public and private supporters of suicide prevention, training, and education.
The coalition works with numerous related organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, The Speedy Foundation, and the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. The “611” hotline, available to all Idahoans, provides crisis intervention, emotional support, and resource referrals for those at risk for suicide along with their families and loved ones. The Senate supported the adoption of House Joint Memorial 001 which changed the suicide prevention hotline number to “611”. Click here to learn more about House Joint Memorial 001. Click here for more information about the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Denton Darrington Lecture at the Capitol
The University of Idaho College of Law, the Idaho Supreme Court, and the Idaho State Bar and Law Foundation hosted the 6th annual Denton Darrington lecture this week in the Capitol Building. The lecture series is designed to address a wide range of topics related to the improved administration of justice and features national, state, and regional speakers to address Idaho citizens, students, and officials from all three branches of government. This year's lecture was held at the Capitol's Lincoln Auditorium and featured Chief Justice Charles R. Canady of the Florida Supreme Court. At this well-attended event, Justice Canady spoke on "Civility, Humility, and Interbranch Relations." He pointed to the characteristics of President Abraham Lincoln as a role model in fighting for a united country.