“Our calling is to assure a full place at the center of society for those who, too often, live on its edges. Our mission is to use the power we possess, and the good government can do to carry the fight against ignorance, disease, poverty, and intolerance.” - Governor Cecil D. Andrus
This session, we’ve had a record low number of bills originate in the Senate, and record high number from the House. Once a bill passes through its chamber of origin, it must be considered in the other chamber. So, when the House has a high number of bills, our workload in the Senate tends to be much heavier in the latter part of the legislative session. Here’s an update on some legislation we’ve seen this past week:
HB463, the tax conformity and income tax reduction bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star), received a do-pass recommendation from the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee this Wednesday with a 5-4 vote. This bill seeks to make Idahoans whole after a $97.4 million tax increase from the federal government, while also tacking on an additional $104.5 million in income tax cuts. While responsible tax cuts are certainly in order for hardworking Idahoans, the Legislature shouldn’t be giving them at the expense of education, workforce development programs, healthcare, and transportation infrastructure funding.
The Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 to approve the updated school science standards as proposed. This is the first time in 17 years that the standards have been updated. These standards and their supporting content provide important guidelines for current and new teachers, and are developed by professionals in the teaching field. Last year the science standards were presented as a temporary rule, which requires both House and Senate approval to pass. This year they were presented as pending rules, which only require either the Senate or the House to approve.
This Thursday, the House unanimously passed a bill to protect breastfeeding mothers from the state’s indecent exposure and obscenity laws. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Paul Amador (R-Coeur d'Alene) and is co-sponsored by several members of the legislature. Idaho is currently the only state in America that doesn’t have these protections on the books. This long overdue change will soon find its way to the Senate for consideration.
As a result of the economic recession 10 years ago, the state of Idaho chose to cut program funding in various places to help reduce spending. Unfortunately, this meant that nearly everyone was required to do more with less, and in some cases, do more with nothing. One of the programs to lose funding in 2011 was preventive dental care for adults on Medicaid. HB465 seeks to restore this funding. It is anticipated that in future years there will be about $2.5 million in savings from reduced emergency dental and treatment costs for other medical conditions that are caused or exacerbated by lack of preventive oral health care. Such conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, kidney disease and dementia.
Trespassing Law and CBD Oil
The House has for its consideration a bill to change trespassing laws, particularly as they pertain to notifying sportsmen about private property line identification. For years, property owners and sportsmen have used the “orange paint” law to identify property lines, which helps both the owner and sportsman maintain respect for each other. We want to maintain this positive relationship whenever possible.
HB 577 legalizes Cannabidiol (CBD) oil containing less than .3% THC levels. Idaho has conducted a study on epileptic children who use the commercial version of CBD oil, called Epidiolex, and its ability to reduce the frequency of seizures. The results have been very positive. The drug will likely cost between $30,000-60,000, however, which has prompted Rep. Dorothy Moon’s (R-Stanley) bill to legalize CBD oil. Thousands of children and adults in Idaho with intractable seizures would benefit from its passage. The House Health & Welfare Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill.
As always, it’s a pleasure to represent you in our statehouse. Please continue to send me emails and call with comments, questions, and ideas.