"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mahatma Gandhi
I had the honor of sponsoring Ketchum's own former Rep. Wendy Jaquet on the Senate floor to confirm her reappointment to the State Board of Health and Welfare. Wendy is a dear friend and I know she will continue to serve us well on the board.
Two new Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners came through the Resources & Environment Committee for confirmation. Commissioner Greg Cameron will serve the Magic Valley Region, and Commissioner Jerry Meyers will serve the Salmon Region. This commission has a statutory requirement for party parity. This seven person commission can have no more than four members from one party. Commissioner Meyers voted Republican in the 2016 primary election which would have tipped the scale, however, he unaffiliated before his appointment. While this doesn't adhere with the spirit of the law, he is technically in compliance with statutory requirements. I also took the opportunity to lean on the candidates' stances on elite hunting tags, which I have been vocally opposed to for years. Unfortunately neither candidate could give me answers with any teeth which concerns me. The committee will meet again next week to vote on these appointments.
I've received several calls and emails expressing concern for the elk and deer situation in the valley. Idaho Fish and Game has started feeding in a number of places, and they've had private donations to support their efforts as well. There have also been calls to the BLM to close access roads heavy with wintering animals. Although BLM is not allowed to do that in this situation, they are working with IDFG to encourage folks to visit alternative access roads that provide similar outdoor recreation opportunities. If you'd like more information, you can click here to visit IDFG's winter feeding information site.
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra presented her budget to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) on Thursday. Among her $1.679 billion budget request she includes $62 million for the next phase of the teacher career ladder for teacher pay, $7 million for advanced opportunities, and an $11.6 million increase in discretionary funds. The governor's education budget recommendations were slightly different than the superintendent's, including a $15 million increase in discretionary funds, and a recommendation to move the evaluation training and development program to the State Board of Education. Superintendent Ybarra hopes to keep the program within her office, and has asked for $300,000 to fund its operation. JFAC is charged with deliberating the finer details to determine the funding allocations, and will take both the governor's and the superintendent's recommendations into consideration.
In two weeks, Rep Sally Toone and I will host our district tour. We'll give updates from the legislature and have time for Q&A. Here are the times and dates:
Feb. 10 5:30 p.m. - Ketchum City Hall
Feb. 11 8:00 a.m. - Bellevue's Oak Street Café & Deli
10:30 a.m. - Shoshone Community Center
12:00 p.m. - Gooding, location TBD
2:00 p.m. - Wendell City Hall
4:00 p.m. - Hagerman City Hall