“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
- John Holmes
We’re nearing the end of the legislative session, which means a majority of our time is spent debating bills on the Senate floor that originated in the House. Here is some legislation we’ve seen this week:
Justice for Victims
Currently, victims of sexual battery are billed for the collection of evidence as if it were a medical procedure. HB 429 is a bill would require that the collection of this evidence be paid for through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. The Senate passed it with only one “no” vote. Since HB 429 was amended, it must now return to the full House for consideration.
After passing the House with a wide margin of support, the bill that would legalize CBD oil was referred to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The committee chairman chose to leave the bill off the committee agenda, as is his right, and the bill is likely to die in committee.
Funding for our District
This week the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) wrapped up most of its business for the session with final votes on appropriations bills. Once these bills pass from committee, they are considered by the full Senate and House. When bills fail in JFAC, however, the relevant budget items do not receive funding. One bill that failed this week on a 10-9 vote would have given additional funding to the College of Southern Idaho. I was disappointed to see this fail, especially in a time when Idaho so desperately needs to build its skilled workforce, a task often accomplished through improved career technical education programs at our community colleges.
Another important funding vote for our district came in the form of a failed effort to allocate funds toward a new Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) facility. This action came about as part of the potential closure of the office in Shoshone, which employs between 50 and 60 people.
In small communities like Shoshone, the loss of jobs and economic activity cannot be easily replaced. It is not yet clear how this will impact the ITD decision to move.
Senator Mark Nye’s (D-Pocatello) bill to help babies locked in hot cars passed the full Senate on Thursday. Under these provisions, a Good Samaritan can break a window to rescue a baby locked inside a hot vehicle after making reasonable attempts to contact law enforcement and the responsible party, and not assume liability for property damaged in the process. SB 1245 passed with overwhelming support, and I hope it does the same as it progresses through the House.
…. But not enough
The Legislature passed a tax conformity and income tax cut bill last week that provides tax increases to single parents and families with 3 or more children. In order to “make families whole” the child tax credit piece of the bill must be at least $287 per child, but the recent bill only afforded $130 per child. Representative Moyle’s (R-Star) new bill to address this issue only credits $205, leaving families $87 short per child.
As always, it is my pleasure to serve as your Senator. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.