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Boise, ID 83720-0081

(208) 332-1353

Boise Idaho Senator Michelle Stennett, Idaho State Senate Minority Leader

News Blog

Legislative News, WEEK TWO, January 19-23, 2015

Michelle Stennett

On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one of Dr. King's speeches reminds us of the greatness of the man we celebrated. "I'm concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice; I'm concerned about brotherhood; I'm concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth. Through violence you can murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that."

The big news in Boise this week was the visit by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. As he had in his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama kept the focus on middle-class economics and education. He stressed the benefits of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs and his "America's College Promise" proposal, which would enable qualified students to attend two years of community college at no cost.

Upon arrival in Boise, President Obama was given a copy of a resolution passed by the 2014 legislature as well as a letter signed by all Senate leadership asking for his assistance in securing the release of Reverend Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran since 2012. The President held a private meeting with Naghmeh Abedini and her two children and assured her that her husband's release was a top priority. Mrs. Abedini told the press that the President "was holding my hand the whole time. I could see that he cared, in his eyes." I am grateful to all who are working and praying for Rev. Abedini's release.

Today, I was copied on a letter dated January 9th from the State Department of Education regarding the IEN contract. The letter urges local school districts to secure a network service provider eligible for federal E-rate reimbursements in the event that the statewide network is no longer operational as a result of the voided statewide IEN contract. SDE is asking all districts to file the appropriate forms (470, 471) with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to begin the process of directly securing these phone tax funds for broadband services. The filing window for Funding Year 2015 is January 14-March 26, 2015 and the SDE is available for assistance (Todd Lawrence, (208) 332-6959, or Will Goodman (208) 332-6970,

This was a week filled with worries over a curtailment order that would profoundly impact hundreds of groundwater users across District 26, including many of our towns and cities. In an effort to manage water differently, to address water calls, and to honor water rights users, a new water distribution system, a pipeline, has been constructed in the Hagerman Valley as part of a mitigation plan, with a January 19th deadline for completion. The pipeline was completed on time but the materials did not meet the strict contract requirements. Idaho Department of Water Resources Director Gary Spackman issued the curtailment order on Tuesday. Yesterday, a Snake River Adjudication Court judge ruled to stay the curtailment until Feb. 7th at which point the pipeline should be fully operational.

The Rinker family's 10,400 Rock Creek Ranch with an attached 10,000 acres of BLM grazing allotments was sold to the Wood River Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy which are facilitators to honor the wishes and legacy of the family offering public access to recreate and graze. As part of their vision, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game Lands Committee, which already has purchasing funds in place, is requesting the spending authority from JFAC to purchase and take over management of the parcel. The Committee evaluation found the property to have outstanding wildlife, including migratory and transitional range and habitat for mule deer, elk, and antelope, sage grouse habitats, and significant fisheries. The project came before my Senate Resources and Environment Committee and was sent to JFAC for consideration. This is another example of a wonderful partnership; a thorough, thoughtful process for public benefit.

Schedule for District 26 mid-session Town Hall meetings:

Fri., Feb. 6th

6pm               Ketchum - City Hall          

Sat., Feb. 7th 

8am               Bellevue - Oak Street Deli           

10:30am        Shoshone - Community Ctr

Noon              Gooding - Planning & Zoning Office     

2pm                Wendell - City Office    

4pm                Hagerman -City Office                             

Hope you can stop by or, as always, feel free to contact me by phone (208-332-1353) or email (