The Last Week...no Wait...There is More to be Done
Well here we are, week 12. I was hoping this week’s newsletter would be the last one this session, not because I don’t like providing you with session updates, but rather I was expecting that our work would be complete and we could return to our duties as your elected leaders back in our own communities. I get the pleasure of living in beautiful Nampa each day, and for that I am grateful. With all that said, I am afraid we will be here well into next week, if not beyond.
The “going home” bill is of course, Medicaid and specifically Medicaid expansion. The question we are debating between the House and the Senate involves a minimal work requirement and if it should be added to the Medicaid expansion eligibility requirements. There are good arguments on both sides that aren’t all reported in the news. What’s important to me is structuring and funding Medicaid expansion in a manner that benefits the recipients in a fiscally responsible manner, meaning that it will be sustainable by the state. While I like the idea of self sufficiency and bettering your lot in life, I’m not sure the estimated cost to enforce a work requirement of $2 to $3 million per year is worth the benefit. I’m sure we’ll learn more in the coming days and reach a solution before we Sine Die for this session.
You may have heard me on the radio this past Thursday as I had the privilege of participating in 670 KBOI’s Majority Thursday alongside another Nampa leader, Representative Rick Youngblood. Our hosts, Mike and Chris, weren’t too hard on us with their line of questioning and allowed us to share our thoughts about some important legislation.
And on Wednesday I was pleasantly surprised to see my 7th grade South Junior High P.E. teacher Mr. Kollman (Gary) and his wife in the Senate gallery. We enjoyed catching up and I believe Mr. Kollman was able to get me to make up those extra laps I missed in P.E. years ago while taking time for a quick tour of our beautiful Capitol!
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, 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.
Honoring veterans highlighted during the 2019 Legislative Session
As the 65th Idaho Legislature nears the end, a reoccurring theme this year has been recognizing and honoring our bravest heroes. Below are legislative highlights acknowledging and remembering those who served.
Legislation for National Medal of Honor Highway
Highway 20 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. This year, Legislators proposed to designate Idaho’s portion of Highway 20 with the title “National Medal of Honor Highway”. 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. 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. This legislation unanimously passed the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor on March 8, 2019. Click here to read House Bill 89.
Idaho lawmakers honor the American Legion in its centennial year
This session Idaho lawmakers adopted a resolution to honor and commemorate the American Legion’s upcoming 100th year anniversary. The American Legion is the largest Veteran’s Service Organization in the United States with over 2 million members. With over 12,000 American Legion posts in the nation, 99 of those posts are in Idaho, totaling around 10,000 members. This resolution specifically commemorates Idaho’s 99 American Legion posts and its members throughout the state. In addition to advocating patriotism and promoting strong national security, the American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring programs, such as American Legion Baseball, Boys and Girls State, and the American Legion National High School Oratorical Program. Click here to read Senate Concurrent Resolution 101.
Legislation offers emergency relief grants to more Idaho veterans in need
This legislation is a statutory amendment allowing the Idaho Division of Veterans Services the ability to offer emergency relief grants to all eligible Idaho destitute veterans and their dependents instead of only those destitute veterans who come under the classifications of disabled or wartime. This legislation unanimously passed the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor on March 21, 2019. Click here to read Senate Bill 1079.
Veterans Recognition Income Funds
The Idaho Veterans Recognition Income Fund (Section 65-704, Idaho Code) consists of monies transferred from the Idaho Veterans Recognition Fund. The intent of this fund was to safeguard these reserves, at a higher mid-term holding earning rate, so that they are available to support the initial construction costs of a second cemetery and fourth veterans nursing home without the use of the general funds. While the Division of Veterans Services maintains the higher interest and investment earnings generated by such moneys in the Veterans Recognition Fund, the lower interest rate generated by the short-term holdings in the Veterans Recognition Income Fund is currently swept to the General Fund. This legislation permits the short-term holdings in the Veterans Recognition Income Fund to also be used solely to benefit Idaho veterans. Click here to read Senate Bill 1080.
Personal income increases by 5.4% in Idaho and above the national average
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported this week that state personal income averaged an increase of 4.5 percent in 2018, after increasing 4.4 percent in 2017. Above the national average, Idaho’s percent change in personal income increased by 5.4%. According to the BEA, personal income increased in all states and the District of Columbia in 2018. The percent change in personal income across all states ranged from 6.8 percent in Washington to 2.9 percent in Hawaii. Click here for more information.
Senate Page Program
The Legislative Page Program is an opportunity for high school seniors, between the ages of 17 and 19, to get a hands-on, action-packed experience in Idaho’s legislative process. Each year, the legislative session at the Capitol convenes in early January until sine die, also known as the end of session, near the end of March. The session is divided into two sections, each lasting approximately six weeks.
To enter this competitive program, students must meet the application requirements and adhere to a strictly enforced dress code, which includes the traditional red sweater vest provided by the Senate. This is a paid program and responsibilities include maintaining Senate and House bill books, journal binders, delivering messages, running errands, making copies, and assisting Senators and staff in offices and committee meetings. During this six-week program class assignments and studies are the sole responsibility of the student. In addition, arrangements and expenses for housing and transportation are the responsibility of the student and their parents.
Do you know of a potential candidate for the Senate Page Program?
The deadline for applications is November 15th, however, students are encouraged to apply early and applications are accepted in September. Applications are reviewed in early December, and accepted applicants will be notified by mail. Click here for more information on the Senate Page Program.
Stress and the Opiate Crisis in Idaho
On Monday, Dr. Afshin Mofid of Boise gave a presentation on stress and the opiate crisis in Idaho. Dr. Mofid explained that chronic stress can be caused by an ongoing stressful situation or the memory of a past incident. When under constant stress any additional physical, emotional or chemical stressors can cause physical and/or mental breakdowns. In order to cope with chronic stress, many turn to opium, a class of drugs either legal or illegal, as their only choice.
Finding out the root cause of chronic stress is key. Dr. Mofid stated, “The opioid crisis will not go away until we can educate people on stress management and the goal of this talk was to do that here at the Idaho State Capitol.” Dr. Mofid explained that although claims exist that opioids are not addictive, these statements have resulted in thousands of deaths from opioid overdoses. Remedies to counter chronic stress, include seeking counseling, changing lifestyle habits, and seeking alternative approaches for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Click here for more information.
Idaho State Museum now open!
Located in Boise, the newly renovated Idaho State Museum is now open, providing more space for exhibitions and artifacts. The museum provides a fun, interactive experience for people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy. Also featured in the museum is how Idaho’s unique landscapes, peoples, and cultures have shaped Idaho today. The museum space includes galleries devoted to the state’s geography and our five federally recognized tribes. From the new Boomtown Gallery to the History Lab, the Idaho State Museum provides an interactive, hands-on experience for youth to learn. In addition, classroom space is available for private meetings and events. Click here for more information.