“Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees. And both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.” - Henry Clay
Healthcare Dies Again
On Tuesday, the Idaho House of Representatives voted to send HB 464, the Idaho Health Care Plan, back to the House Health and Welfare Committee. The bill is now dead and for the sixth year in a row, the legislature has failed to help the 78,000 Idahoans, thousands of whom are veterans, in the coverage gap. Sen. Maryanne Jordan’s bill, SB1224, calls for the Department of Health and Welfare to change their definition of Medicaid eligibility to include all individuals whose income is below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty level. The bill awaits hearing in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Tax Bill Passes
HB 463, the tax conformity and income tax bill, passed the Senate floor 26-9. This bill uses $104.1 million from the general fund to provide tax cuts to the highest wage earners, while giving tax increases to large families and single mothers. While I favor responsible tax cuts, these come at the expense of slashed career technical education programs, transportation infrastructure, and mental health services. The bill now sits on the governor’s desk awaiting signature. If you wish to express concern, you can call Governor Otter’s office at (208) 334-2100 or email him at https://gov.idaho.gov/ourgov/contact.html.
Partisan Gerrymandering Bill
Hundreds of my constituents have contacted me expressing concern about a partisan gerrymandering resolution that was printed Monday. SJR 105, a draft of which has still not been made publicly available, will undermine the state’s current, bipartisan redistricting process by reorganizing the commission to be dominated by majority party members.
The original resolution calling for a reapportionment commission in Section 2, Article iii of the Idaho State Constitution passed with bipartisan approval in the first legislature of 1993 with a vote of 26-9-0 in the Senate and 50-17-3 in the House. This amendment required only a simple majority vote of approval from Idaho voters to pass, and succeeded with a resounding 64% vote in the 1994 general election.
The current process governing our reapportionment commission works. It is fair, transparent, allows for public input and scrutiny by the Idaho Supreme Court, and provides specific guidelines for the conduct of commissioners. We have heard from citizens in both parties, as well as political independents, who are disturbed by this proposal. If the bill continues to progress through the legislative channels, I will vote against it.
Stand Your Ground
This Friday, SB1313 passed on a party-line vote. The bill expands Idaho’s justifiable homicide laws, allowing people to shoot first without ascertaining whether danger is apparent or real. This legislation is unnecessary as Idaho already has sufficient laws in place that allow a person to protect their family members and property, and to not have a duty to retreat. The current laws have served Idaho well for the last 109 years, and have been tested several times in court. This bill codifies a presumption of guilt over innocence. SB 1313 now moves to the House for consideration.
Protecting Water Users
This Monday, the Senate voted in favor of SB 1306, a bill amending Idaho Code to require planning and zoning authorities to notify those water delivery entities that have requested notice in writing of any proposed rezoning, subdivision, or any other site-specific land development proposals. This measure not only protects developers, but also water users by preventing encroachment resulting from building over or damaging easements, rights-of-way, and infrastructure owned or operated by water delivery entities.
As always, it is my pleasure to serve as your state senator. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time.