The aim of justice is to give everyone his due. - Cicero
Limiting Your Voice
HB 568 removes the referendum and initiative processes for land use issues. Traditionally, referenda have been used as a means for public input and due process on land use decisions by a board of county commissioners. While this process is rarely used, I do not believe in limiting opportunities for the public to engage on policy decisions. The bill passed the Senate this week and will soon move to the Governor for consideration.
Taking Away Local Control
The Senate will soon vote upon HB 547 which allows building contractors to comply only with the bare minimum standards set by the state. Current law permits cities and counties to require compliance with tighter regulations that allow for energy efficiency and reflect local safety concerns like wildfire, flooding, earthquakes, and snow load. The passage of this bill not only takes away that local control, but it may also result in lower quality building structures that put safety at risk.
After nearly three hours of debate, the Senate voted in favor of a measure that creates reporting requirements for complications that may have resulted from a pregnancy termination. The measure includes making linkages between terminations and 40 other medical conditions that may be experienced by a woman over the course of her life. The listed conditions include health complications that are seen in both men and women including comas, heart attacks, and strokes. Additionally, physicians who fail to comply with these reporting requirements face stiff fines and potential loss of license. Those who debated against the measure see it as a tremendous act of government overreach, especially considering that no other surgical procedure in the state similar reporting requirements. These include a woman’s race, age, number of children she’s birthed that have lived, and number who have died. The bill would create an incredible expense for the Department of Health and Welfare, and ultimately taxpayers, to implement. I signed onto a bipartisan letter asking Governor Otter to veto the measure.
This week we saw terrific demonstrations by the public. On March 14th, students all around the state participated in walkouts to protest gun violence in schools. We had 2,000 teenagers rally on the Capitol steps, then come inside with unified voices that filled the entire building with pleas for action. It was amazing to see our young Idahoans engage in the political process.
Later in the week, the Close the Gap Coalition hosted a healthcare rally on the Capitol steps and an indoor protest, calling specifically for legislators to expand Medicaid (SB 1224), vote on the Idaho Health Care Plan (HB 464), and address the dire physician shortage in our state. At this point in the legislative session, it is unlikely that the Legislature will take any action.
And Finally, Some Good News
Representative Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) sponsored a bill this session to restore dental funding to Medicaid beneficiaries. Preventive dental care is a cost-saving measure, and is extremely important to patients with other medical conditions that can be exacerbated by poor oral health like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, kidney disease, and dementia. The bill passed the entire Legislature and now awaits the governor’s signature.
As always, it is a pleasure to represent our district in the Idaho State Senate. I appreciate your continued input and comments as we deliberate legislation.