Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
- Abraham Lincoln
JFAC Approves Emergency Roads Funds
On March 1st, the Joint Financial Appropriations Committee (JFAC) approved $52 million dollars in emergency funds for transportation repairs. The funds will provide repairs for damages which occurred during the abnormally harsh winter this year. The allocation is a onetime emergency fund coming from the state's budget surplus. While the vote in JFAC was unanimous, the appropriation must be approved by the House and Senate and then signed by the governor.
Education SB 1123
The Senate passed SB 1123, legislation to restore funding to public school districts and public charter schools for travel expenses for field trips and off-site learning opportunities. The bill restores funding removed during the economic downturn. The bill has been sent to the House for action.
School Bond Election
Tuesday, March 14th is School Bond Election Day for the Boise School District. Join me in casting your YES vote.
- The amount of the bond is $172.5 million.
- The amount of the bond will NOT raise the current property tax rate.
- The bond would provide facility improvements for ALL 48 schools, plus major building projects for 22 schools.
- The bond would put more than $155 million into 22 major capital projects, including building six new schools on their current sites, a new school in the Harris Ranch area, as well as expansion of the District's Professional-Technical Education center to offer Electrical, Plumbing and Heating-Air Conditioning job training classes.
- The bond supports a 10 year Educational Facilities Master Plan that:
- Provides direction for the District on how best to meet our most pressing needs regarding poor conditions, overcrowding and improving educational adequacy while ensuring every school receives attention.
- Addresses critical school facility problems now so they won't cost taxpayers more in the future.
- Provides students with access to safe modern classrooms and schools.
- Demonstrates a thoughtful balance between hard data, demographic and enrollment projections, and the input from parents, patrons, staff and students.
- Serves as a clear reflection of our community's commitment to high-quality neighborhood schools.
Representative Hy Kloc presented a concurrent resolution to recognize and support the "important history and ongoing contributions of immigrants toward the building of I daho and the United States of America". Immigration is a vital part of the growth and economic development of this country. Representative Kloc's personal story is quite poignant. He was born in a post-WWII German refugee camp and with his parents fled to the States at the age of two. His first memory of America was seeing the Statue of Liberty. The resolution is headed to the Senate.
JFAC Approves Child Welfare Budget
During the interim, I served as a member of the Foster Care Study Committee. Upon completion, we requested and received a study from the Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) regarding the issues negatively impacting the child welfare system. I'm so pleased to report that in order to address these problems, JFAC set and approved a budget for the Child Welfare Division of the Department of Health and Welfare. The budget adds 8 new positions including 2 additional social workers and reflects a 12.3% increase in state general funds and a 5.8% increase in total funds. While the budget still needs to pass the House and the Senate and receive the governor's signature before it becomes law, budgets formed in joint committees rarely change. I will be voting in support of this appropriation and any legislation that benefits Idaho's children and provides social workers with much needed resources.
Idaho Day was Friday, March 4th and the Capitol was full of celebration. Senator Mark Nye, Co-Chair of the Senate Idaho Day Committee, opened the festivities. David Leroy gave a presentation about President Lincoln's relationship to Idaho and 115 fifth grade choir students from Trail Wind Elementary, under the direction of Julie Vachal, gave a stellar performance. At the close of the program, Senator Nye presented an Idaho State Flag to the school as a lasting remembrance of Idaho Day 2017.
Craters of the Moon
The Senate passed Senate Joint Memorial 101 this week. This Memorial requests Congress to designate the Craters of the Moon National Monument as a national park while protecting states rights and the rights of current users. It also directs Congress to protect current use of Highway 20/26 and requests an expansion of that right of way. Passage of the memorial is expected to have a positive impact on economic growth of the surrounding area. On a historical note: President Calvin Coolidge designated the Craters of the Moon National Monument in 1924 with the intent of eventually designating it as a national park. Idaho is the only western state without a national park.
The Senate Transportation Committee recently sent HB 204 to the Senate with a "Do Pass" recommendation. The legislation gives cities, counties, and highway districts the authority to adopt regulations for the safe operation of personal delivery devices. We got the opportunity to view a Starship Robot in action during committee. For more about personal delivery robots, check out this video. Stay tuned!
Here to Serve You
My goal is to address the immediate needs of District 19 while working strategically toward long term goals. It is my honor to serve you in the Idaho State Senate. Know that your letters, emails, texts, and calls are invaluable. I appreciate hearing what is most important to you and your family.