This Week Seven newsletter starts with another Olympic-sized congratulations to one of our own. U.S. Women's Hockey team star forward, and Sun Valley resident, Hilary Knight won her second silver medal yesterday. I highlighted gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington last week but need to correct her mother's name which is Suz Locke. These Olympians represent Idaho beautifully and it's important to recognize the sacrifices made by these athletes and their families in order to achieve world-class success. As such, I've requested proclamations from the governor's office and resolutions from the legislature acknowledging their accomplishments.
SB1254, the bill requiring colleges and universities to allow the carrying of concealed guns on campus, passed the Senate on a vote of 25-10. Here is a link to the Senate floor debate (select Senate Chambers and scroll down to 2/18 to download the audio/video). I voted no. I believe in local control and feel this campus safety decision should be left to college and university leaders (who universally oppose the measure). The Supreme Court has ruled that the 2nd Amendment can be supported while still imposing restrictions in "sensitive" areas such as schools and courtrooms (DC v. Heller). Finally, I voted no because I am more concerned with our high suicide rates than our low crime rates and I am more interested in supporting education on campus than guns on campus. Governor Otter recently flipped his opposition and now will support the measure should it pass the House of Representatives.
Speaking of Governor Otter, he finally agreed this week to order a criminal investigation of Corrections Corporation of America by the Idaho State Police. Idaho recently agreed to a $1 million settlement with the private prison operator who violated their $29 million state contract by understaffing Idaho's largest prison by over 26,000 hours. Here is an in-depth article by AP reporter Rebecca Boone who has reported on CCA at length.
The House Health & Welfare Committee introduced two measures yesterday with respect to the County Indigent/Catastrophic Health Care Cost Program (CAT fund). The first would eliminate the CAT fund in 2016 and the other would deny CAT-funded services to patients who qualify for the state-run health insurance exchange. These actions would be "catastrophic" unless the program is replaced with a state-wide redesign of Medicaid but this may be the goal of the sponsors; to force the legislature to confront this matter in 2015.
Department of Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong made a wonderful presentation Wednesday on a private, free-market approach to Medicaid. Here is a link to the presentation (select House Standing Committees > Health & Welfare and scroll down to 2/19 to download the audio/video). Director Armstrong revealed that 30%+ of the residents in Camas, Gooding and Lincoln Counties are uninsured so resolving this issue is particularly critical for District 26. By the way, enrollment in the state-run exchange has soared to nearly 33,000 making Idaho second only to Vermont for per-capita enrollment.
Finally this week, Representative Lynn Luker acknowledged the discriminatory implications of his so-called religious freedom bills and pulled them from consideration for this year.
It remains my honor to serve District 26 and this representation of you is best achieved with your input which is welcome via phone (208-332-1353) or email (email@example.com).