Last Week’s Summary of The Idaho Senate’s Efforts to Finish Sine Die…

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We’ve passed the majority of the budget bills, but there are still a few in the House that the Senate still needs to wait for and consider. The loss of the Transportation bill was also quite a setback from being able to Sine Die on Friday, so we will again meet tomorrow and the rest of the week if that’s what it takes to finalize a tax reduction bill and a transportation package for much needed maintenance and expansion projects required due to population growth. We are working on transferring existing General Funds to our multi-billion dollar transportation infrastructure and also enable a limited level of bonding to be able to build some badly needed projects that are very large and expensive. Some of the highlight bills are as follows:
S1142A (The Healthcare Assistance bill I’ve worked on for 6+ months for the Gap population) failed to pass the Senate Floor. The purpose was to provide primary healthcare assistance to 15,000 individuals, many of which are chronically ill. Some thought it would be better to use federal funding as well and have access to $90 million versus $10 million. Some thought it would be best to not use federal funding giving the State of Idaho more authority. Others felt it would be wisest to see what the final outcome of the federal healthcare program was before acting as a state.
H250 (Abortion relating Telehealth) passed the Senate Floor. The purpose of this legislation is to terminate the lawsuit between the State of Idaho and the United States District Court. It would repeal certain provision of the law regulating the performance of chemical abortions adopted by the legislature in 2015. Some felt we should continue to fight on principal. Most felt it was highly unlikely to win this particular lawsuit and it would be best to reframe the issue and fight another day.
H222 (Secure Facility for Violent Incompetent Individuals) passed the Senate Floor. The purpose of this legislation is to allow for a wing of the facility to have secured features protecting more vulnerable clients and the community from the violent individuals.
S1182 (In Regards to Faith Healing) failed to pass the Senate Floor. The purpose of this legislation was to provide a civil avenue to protect the life of the child and not criminalize a parent if they chose prayer or spiritual means of treatment for the child. In the context of treatment by spiritual means, a court could only take action under the Child Protection Act if the child was likely to suffer serious permanent injury or death and then was required to balance the constitutional interests involved. The court would also consider the desires of a child while weighing their age and maturity as in family law custody cases There were a variety of opinions in favor and against this bill. It was heavily yet respectfully debated.
S1194 (Appropriations to Permanent Building Fund) passed the Senate Floor. This legislation provided funding in the amount of $71,425,700 for several projects including the Idaho State University Gale Life Sciences Building, Psychiatric Hospital Transformation, Boise State University for Materials Science, Lewis-Clark State College Career-Technical Education Building, and University of Idaho Center for Agriculture.
The Senate adopted House Joint Memorial 8. The purpose of this Memorial is to request that the federal government appropriate $8 million of federal matching funding of the authorized $20 million allowed for fiscal year 2018 to the four Northwest States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington for the purpose of combating the immediate threat of invasive quagga and zebra mussels.
H274aaS (Invasive Species) passed the Senate Floor. It would amend the Idaho Invasive Species Act by establishing in the Office of the Governor, an Administrator of invasive species policy and establish the Idaho Invasive Species Council. This legislation sets up duties of the Administrator and the Department of Agriculture and lays out the coordination of efforts between state agencies.
House Bill 67aaS (Grocery Tax) passed the Senate Floor with 25 ayes and 10 nays. This piece of legislation would repeal sales taxs on groceries, and also remove the grocery tax credit given back to taxpayers at income tax filing time. The Governor has indicated he is not a fan of this bill, so it it’s taken up in the House is anyone’s guess. An alternative is a 1/10th of a percent reduction at all levels of the income tax (i.e., reduce the top level of tax from 7.4% to 7.3%) that could be sent from the House to the Senate for consideration.
S1188a (Transportation Plan, Relating to GARVEE bonding) failed to pass the Senate Floor with 20 nays and 15 ayes. This legislation provided authorization for selling up to $300 million in GARVEE bonds issued by Idaho Housing and Finance Association for ITD to finance highway transportation projects around the state. Ninety two percent of the repayment amount on Garvee bonds are paid from the federal dollars received by ITD and the state is not liable if it does not receive sufficient federal funds to make the bind payments. This piece of legislation deals directly with I-84 from Nampa to Caldwell as well as many other priority expansion projects around the state. There has been a lot of good, diplomatic debate on both sides of this issue, although this bill failed, we are staying to try put a transportation package together before we Sine Die.
H301a (Oil and Gas) passed the Senate Floor unanimously. The purpose of this legislation is to protect private property owners, state endowment lands, and taxpayers. It would do so by updating the Idaho law in accordance with other Rocky Mountain States and it would improve processes, transparency, and reporting of oil and gas development.
We were shooting for finishing last Friday, but just couldn’t get consensus to finish some very tough bills. We will come together once again this week and try to finish our work. Again, thank you for allowing me to represent you in the Idaho Senate!

Would it be hypocritical to be Pro-life while at the same time not support the protection of children from neglect?…

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Asking for a friend.

Last Week in the Idaho Senate…

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After a great deal of discussion considering various amendments H67 was sent to the 14th order for amendment. The original bill proposed a reduction in the individual and corporate income tax by .2%. After considering alternative amendments, the amendment that was approved is now to remove sales tax on groceries. The amended bill would also remove any tax credit related to groceries. There will be more discussion on the nature and impact of the bill during debate this coming week.
I sponsored an effort for primary care and limited pharmaceuticals through S1142aa ($10 Million Medicaid Gap Coverage Bill). It was amended last week to add a pilot program for 250 chronically ill people (~$90k) in the Gap population to receive comprehensive health coaching to move themselves out of that population and above the poverty level. 5% of the people drive 50% of our medical delivery costs, getting our arms around this population will show in reduced insurance premiums in the long term (which increased 24% in Idaho this year). It was voted on yesterday and failed 13/22. The purpose of this legislation is to authorize primary care, limited prescriptions and care coordination to Idaho’s eligible population instead of expanding Medicaid for the entire population. It would cover about 15,000 chronically ill people in the gap population and have changed the service from a pay per visit to pay for value (monthly payment to keep patients healthy). The Democrats preferred Medicaid expansion while others on the floor either wanted to wait to see what was going to happen with Medicaid at the federal level or wanted to spend more than the $10 million from the Tobacco Settlement funds (Millennium funds)… it was a hard needle to thread, but we must do something to get these folks healthy and bend the cost curve of healthcare delivery!
H211 (Invasive Species Bill relating to Out of State Stickers) passed the Senate Floor. The purpose of this legislation is to increase the invasive species fee for non-residents from $22.00 to $30.00. Since Quagga mussels have now also been found in some Montana waterways, these collected fees will be used to fund the efforts to keep this invasive species out of the State of Idaho.
H169 passed the Senate Floor with twenty-eight Ayes and six Nays. The purpose of this legislation is to amend code 67-6302 to require legislative approval of any effort to introduce or reintroduce species in the State by any agency or entity, State or Federal. This legislation is important because reintroduction of species can have severe consequences.
S1182 (Child Treatment by Prayer) has been printed and will be heard in Senate State Affairs on Monday. This legislation amends Sections 16-1602 and 16-1627. This legislation seeks to strike a balance between the exercise of religious freedoms and protecting the life and health of a child. The bill focuses on protecting the child and not on criminalizing parents (this is being done in the civil section of code, the exemption still exists in the criminal section of code). The legislation allows the court to intervene under the Child Protective Act in situations where the parents are using spiritual means by prayer to heal their child and the failure to obtain medical treatment would result in the serious permanent injury or death or death of the child. Referencing Title 73, chapter 4 Idaho’s Religious Freedom Act treats all religions equally and puts a strict burden of need for the state to get involved in a child neglect civil case.
In the Senate Health and Welfare Committee House Bill 222 (Southwest Idaho Treatment Center) moved to the floor with a Do Pass Recommendation. The purpose of this legislation is to allow for a wing of a facility to have secured features protecting more vulnerable clients and the community. Idaho courts have also expressed the need for a short-term placement option for individuals with developmental disabilities who pose a threat to the community or staff. This legislation provides for a secure facility for violent offenders deemed incompetent due to mental illness.
SJM 102 passed the Senate. This Joint Memorial asks Congress for a 10 year moratorium on listing sage-grouse, time to implement the State of Idaho’s Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan, and an amount of time to evaluate its efficacy. It also asks Congress not to fund or implement federal land use plan amendments for a period of 10 years if they are inconsistent with the State’s Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan.
There are a number of transportation funding bills flying around, trying to find the right pathway to get more funding on the roads… without increasing taxes, but a shift from the General Funds as I’ve proposed for the last 3 years. We must find a way to expand some of our capacity to move traffic and maintain what we have. We can’t get that from existing, traditional registration and fuel taxes, we have to think outside the box and shift some funding around to take care of our multi-billion dollar infrastructure. Expect more on this during the week as well as a final tax reduction bill…
This last week we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and the Idaho Capitol had the pleasure of being visited by many students including all the Government Students from Eagle High School!
Again, thank you for allowing me to represent you in the Idaho Senate!

The Inaugural Treasure Valley Policeman’s Ball was a huge success last night!

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Honored to know and mingle with the men and women who allow us all to sleep safely at night. Kevin has returned with a great attitude and energy… Well done to all who tirelessly worked to put this together!

Last Weeks Highlights in the Idaho Senate…

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Senate Concurrent Resolution 108 (Federal Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment). There was an extensive debate regarding this resolution. The debate at times was passionate but collegial. Those debating recognized the problem with the federal debt and spending but individually disagreed on whether this was the way to approach the issue. The question was whether or not to submit an application to Congress requesting the call of a Convention of States under Article V, for the purpose of adding an amendment to the Constitution requiring a federal balanced budget. There are two avenues to amend the Constitution:
1. Congress must have two-thirds vote in both Houses

2. Two-thirds of State Legislatures must vote in favor of calling an Article V Convention for the same purpose(s)
Both options require ratification of three quarters of State legislatures. Most Senators were concerned by how our national debt continues to grow. Some felt the repercussion of not voting in favor of an Article V Convention of the States was a greater risk. Others were concerned if an Article V Convention were called it could potentially open up the Constitution to multiple amendments under a runaway convention. Valid points were discussed from either side of the issue. Even though I have worked on this for 4 years, there is obviously still work to do to dispel many unfounded concerns. This Concurrent Resolution did not pass the Senate Floor. There were 24 nays and 11 ayes.
In Senate Transportation Committee Senate Bill 1121 (Safe Routes to School and Healthy children) was sent to the Senate floor with a Do Pass Recommendation. The purpose of this legislation is to create an account in the State Treasurers office where private, state or federal grants can be placed in order to build infrastructure and education programs that will reduce risk of traffic related injuries and fatalities suffered by children traveling to and from school. It will also promote physical activity and a healthier lifestyle for children.
In Senate Education Committee Senate Bill 1096 (Master Schools Premium Alteration) was held at the chair of the committee. The purpose of this legislation was to place parameters and give the school districts the option of participating in the Master Teacher Premium Program or Master School Premium Program. This would offer financial incentive to either teachers or schools. After much discussion it was held in the committee because some feel it is breaking a promise to teachers who are already participating in the program to earn more financial incentive, while others are concerned in regards to having enough funding.
The Senate Education Committee voted in favor of temporary Rule Docket 08.0203.1701 (Science Minimum Standards with language regarding climate change being removed). Many on the committee would like to revisit language regarding climate change in the upcoming years of legislative sessions.
In the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee House Bill 46 was passed with a Do Pass Recommendation after some discussion. This legislation creates a licensing system for sign language interpreters. Deaf people are often times at a disadvantaged with unqualified interpreters and receive only partial information and therefore do not have a”voice”. The vote was unanimous.
In the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee Senate Bill 1058 (Relating to Telehealth) was sent to the 14th order for amendment. The purpose of this legislation was to offer more medical services through the use of technology so one would not have to travel to the specialist. The bill required that telehealth services be covered by health insurance providers at the same cost as in person services. It was sent to the amending order due to concerns with the existing language to see if a consensus could be reached on amendments.
In the Joint Appropriations Finance and Committee $563.3 million was appropriated to four-year universities in Idaho. They appropriated $52 million to emergency funding to help state and local jurisdictions with the damages caused by the harsh winter conditions. These funds are to be distributed based on need and handled as a grant type program, all of these appropriation bills are now headed to the floors for consideration.
I have been working on a healthcare bill to cover the Gap population since before the session began. I took the original draft to the House Chairman of Health and Welfare where we worked with the Department to set sideboards on a primary care system for that population focused on chronic health concerns related to smoking that would be paid for with tobacco settlement funds (Millennium funds). It got held up in that body, so I’ve brought it to the Senate for consideration. It was printed on Friday and I hope to get a hearing within the next week. This last week we celebrated Elks Day at the Capitol and Idaho Day. We had the pleasure of hosting Idaho Society of Radiologic Technicians, Idaho Financial Literacy Coalition, Professional Firefighters of Idaho, Republican Women, Idaho Office for Refugees, and various groups to help celebrate Idaho Day.

Idaho’s Medical Education Choke Point is Residencies

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the number of seats for training our new Doctors are outstripping follow on, required residency seats, without them we will never dig out of the shortage hole we are now in! bit.ly/2l3xzQl

A Quick Summary of the Last Couple Weeks in the Idaho Senate…

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A number of bills are really starting to roll through committees and come to the floor for consideration and vote in the Senate (the same is going on in the House) now that we have completed most of our rules reviews. Once a bill is passed or fails on the floor of each body, it’s referred to the other body for consideration and vote. Any bill that passes both bodies, will then go to the Governor for his consideration and signature or veto. The list below are just a few of the bills and things that have happened in the last couple weeks:
The Idaho State Senate made history by working together as a body to determine whether or not to adopt the report from the State Affairs Committee regarding the most recent contest of election in District 29. It was determined the contest of election was not reasonably based on factual evidence or law and the committee report was adopted by a unanimous vote. The Senate also found that the contestant should be responsible to pay the costs and attorneys fees incurred by Senator Nye in defending against the challenge. The last time the state of Idaho had a contest of election was in the early 1980’s.
Agencies are requesting more funding this legislative session. For some it is an attempt to slow down the rate of turnover amongst employees. Others are updating infrastructure or technology. Idaho State University is requesting $3,384,900.00 more in funding than was appropriated last year at this time. They feel it is important to invest in the future as well as ISU’s energy program. Idaho State University is currently working on a driver less car. They believe it will be helpful in the Agriculture Industry.
Idaho Transportation Department delivered a progress report to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Transportation Committees. The Idaho Transportation Department shared that there has been a massive improvement in the department, including public transportation, snow removal, and overall efficiency. After the joint committee meeting approximately 20 individuals, 15 of whom were legislatures toured the new underground public transportation terminal.
In Joint Finance Appropriations Committee $64,900.00 ongoing funds were moved from general funds to Office of the Governor for cyber security.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved a significant rewrite of the safety rules regarding logging operations in the state of Idaho. These rules were the result of a collaborative effort between the logging industry and the Division of Building Safety. In the Senate Education Committee Senate Bill 1014 (regarding a school’s technology plan being submitted to the State Department of Education) was held at the call of the Chairman. Senate Bill 1015 (revising definitions and technical corrections) was sent to the Senate floor with a due pass recommendation. Mary Spiker, of Pocatello Idaho, was named teacher of the year. She shared her concern that economic poverty negatively affects our students’ ability to learn. She also expressed that she has witnessed economic poverty contributing to misbehavior, lack of critical thinking, lack of hygiene and lack of empathy.
Senate Bill 1004 (Revising Nursing Board Compensation) passed the Senate Floor unanimously. For some time statutory compensation paid to the Board of Nursing members for public service on the Board has remained at $50.00 per day. The purpose of this legislation is to provide a modest upward adjustment in Board member compensation in order to adjust for inflation (this compensation is paid for by the members licensing and is a separate, dedicated fund managed by the members board).
Senate Bill 1028 passed the Senate Floor with a unanimous vote. This legislation will establish a dedicated fund for underground storage tank fees to provide for better accountability, transparency, inspections and management of the inventory of underground storage tanks. This will allow the legislature and state controller to view all revenues and expenditures from the Statewide Accounting and Reporting System (STARS). The Department of Environmental Quality will be able to complete an accurate fee expenditure report from the information in this system. Additionally using a dedicated fund will earn interest. This approach may potentially increase the funds balance, and decrease fees in subsequent years to the owners of these tanks that require annual inspections.
Senate Bill 1029 passed the Senate floor with unanimous support. This amends Idaho Code authorizing students to enroll in dual credit courses regardless of whether or not they are participating in advanced opportunities (Fast Forward for Overload, Dual Credit, Advanced Placement and Baccalaureate) funded by the state. This legislation makes a technical amendment to clarify that the credits could be academic or career technical as applicable to the course being completed.
In the Senate Transportation Committee RS 25143 has been sent to print so it is now Senate Bill 1052. The Purpose of this legislation is to amend Idaho Code Sections 63-2402, 63-2423, 63-2427A, and 63-2427B by removing dyed fuel exemption or references of dyed fuel from the motor fuel tax. This legislation would also repeal section 63-2425 relating to dyed fuel. This proposal removes the necessity of dyed diesel. It would eliminate the need to enforce and sanction unauthorized use of dyed diesel fuel. This would leave one diesel fuel (clear) in the marketplace for all users. There is a system in place for off road diesel usage, as well as system for state and local units of government to purchase fuel without paying the state and federal taxes. For off road diesel usage one would be able to apply for a refund as frequently as monthly but no longer than annually.
After much discussion the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee has sent Senate Bill 1007 to the Senate Floor with Do Pass Recommendation. The purpose of this legislation is to authorize the Board of Professional Engineers and Surveyors to require mediation of disputes between licensed land surveyors. The Board only determines whether professional disciplinary action is necessary; they do not make binding determinations on whether a property boundary is correct in a survey. The desired outcome of this legislation is to help reduce the prospect of litigation involving conflicts between surveyors.
The Senate Education Committee has sent Senate Bill 1041 to the Senate Floor with a Do Pass Recommendation. This bill would modify the Public Education Stabilization Fund statue. It would require the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee to consider transferring funds into the Public Education Stabilization Fund in the same amount that was withdrawn the previous year to fund K-12 education. The purpose of this legislation is to maintain educational funding stability in the future.
Senate Health and Welfare Committee has printed S1060. The purpose of this legislation would be to ensure women in Idaho and their doctors have access to the most up-to-date information available regarding cytomegalovirus (CMV) prevention, infection, and treatment. This would foreseeably prevent the infection of numerous babies in utero, and consequently save the State of Idaho millions of dollars in care and treatment. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is virus, which is passed through bodily fluids. It can cause hearing loss, blindness, among many other things. It is widespread within and outside of United States borders and oftentimes asymptomatic. It is not well known in the United States medical field. The only treatment is located in Europe and considered experimental.
All of these bills and their proposed language changes can be found at www.legislature.idaho.gov www.legislature.idaho.gov under the 2017 Session Icon.

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