Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
Leaves are beautiful, vibrant shades of red and gold signaling that autumn is upon us. Many of you have already cast your vote, and others are making preparations to vote by mail prior to or in person on November 8th. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but an important reminder: your informed vote is absolutely critical to your future, the future of our families and to the future of our state. Your vote impacts the landscape of our lives. Please don't take this great privilege for granted! Here are some things that have been keeping me busy these final days before the election:
I've got to keep on pushing
I can't stop now
Move up a little higher
Some way, somehow
'Cause I've got my strength
And it don't make sense
Not to keep on pushin'
The Impressions (old school 1964 Soul)
As the summer comes to a close and Election Day approaches, I'm glad to share updates from around District 19 and the state.
End of Session Letter
"And so it is and so I let it be."
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are greatly honored to represent District 19 and proud to continue to work for you, our constituents. It has been enlightening to communicate with you, to hear your priorities and concerns during town halls, through email and at the many events taking place around the state.
Idaho Democrats have worked diligently this year and have celebrated many successes, including the release of our Creating Opportunity Plan, developed under the leadership of Representative Mat Erpelding. This plan outlines principles and legislative goals designed to help Idaho prosper. It focuses on investing in education, boosting our economy, balancing government, maintaining transparency, and protecting our quality of life.
Courage is Grace Under Pressure
- Ernest Hemingway
Women's Healthcare Rights
Here we go again. A pair of bills that would erode the reproductive rights of women were up for consideration this week. HB 516 requires physicians to provide any women considering an abortion a list of providers offering free ultrasound services, purportedly as a means of helping a woman make an informed decision about her pregnancy. Yet the bill doesn't identify qualifications for the service provider. This is particularly alarming since anyone could theoretically buy an ultrasound machine, pay a small fee, and set up shop. Professionals caution that certain vaginal ultrasounds can cause considerable fetal damage in the early weeks of the pregnancy. At best, this legislation is incomplete; at worst, it could be life threatening. The bill is now headed to the governor's office.
Constitutional Convention Bill
A piece of legislation (SB 1350) that would have set ground rules for state delegates at a Constitutional Convention was defeated by the Senate this week. According to Article V of the United States Constitution, a Constitutional Convention is a meeting that is called by the U.S. Congress, joining delegates from each state to deal with specific constitutional issues. In accordance with law, two-thirds of the states must agree to hold one before Congress can call the meeting. Not addressed in the bill, however, are the inherent dangers of such a convention, including a weak vetting process that could easily lead to extremist revisions of the constitution, benefitting only special interest groups. Notably, the country has not seen a Constitutional Convention in over 200 years. To my way of thinking, this is certainly no time to start.
In Honor of Women's History Month:
To the wrongs that need resistance,
To the right that needs assistance,
To the future in the distance,
- Carrie Chapman Catt (Suffragette)
School Board Elections
The Senate Education Committee stopped two bills that sought to negatively impact school board elections this week. The first, SB 1307, would change the school board election date from May of odd years, to the November general election in even years. The bill conflicts with efforts that were made in the 2011 session to consolidate elections. Several elections coincide with the current school board election cycle including: hospital boards, highway districts, library districts, and auditorium districts. Moving the school board elections to November would likely result in a decrease in an already-low voter turnout. The second bill, SB 1308, would change the board election process by requiring trustees to live in the zones they represent, while permitting voters across the district to vote for all trustees. The bill would require school board candidates to campaign across an entire school district, resulting in considerable cost to those running for an unpaid trustee position. I voted against both bills.
The measure of a country's greatness is its
ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.
Update: Women's Rights Under Attack
Unfortunately, both of the bills relating to women's productive rights, HB 516 and SB 1349, advanced this week, from the House State Affairs and Senate State Affairs Committees respectively. HB 516 seeks to compel a woman to obtain an ultrasound from a designated provider prior to having an abortion. SB1349 seeks to dictate handling of fetal tissue. I am disappointed that these pieces of legislation will be moving forward as it produces no tangible health benefits for women, and only infringes on their constitutional rights. I will continue to oppose the bills and work toward their defeat in the Senate.
"In the face of adversity, be grateful, for such opportunities do not come by often." Buddha
Much appreciation to D19 constituents, friends, and neighbors who attended our Town Hall at Hidden Springs last week. Thanks for your questions, comments, and sharing your concerns. Having the opportunity to communicate in person is invaluable.
The pace steadily increased last week in the Legislature as we are rapidly approaching the last day legislation can be introduced through a non-privileged committee. As of Monday, February 22, new bills can only be introduced via privileged committees. Here is a look at just a few particularly notable bills currently under consideration.
We are a little more than a month into the Legislative Session, and it seems priorities, for some, are taking an interesting turn. Rather than focusing on more pressing issues, I have seen numerous efforts to pass restrictive, preemptive measures that limit local communities in Idaho. This erosion of local control is not beneficial for hard-working Idahoans and forces our municipalities to petition the state in order to achieve their goals. With this in mind, here is a look at three troublesome pieces of legislation currently under consideration.
The momentum at the State Capitol continues to build as both chambers have completed preparation of personal bills and committees are working through extensive agendas.
Democrats Release Plan to Improve Idaho's Future
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett and House Minority Leader John Rusche rolled out the Democrats' legislative agenda for 2016 and the years ahead. "A Balanced Plan for Idaho's Future" is a document that lays a strong foundation for the future and calls out goals and principles toward realization of a better Idaho that include:
We marked yet another busy week at the State Capitol.This newsletter offers a brief recap of Week Three.
The capitol was alive with all things educational last week: students from Boise High School getting well acquainted with the capitol doing a scavenger hunt, presentations to our Education and Joint Finance and Appropriations Committees from our public colleges and universities, the Superintendent Of Public Instruction, State Board of Education, and displays throughout the rotunda from a wide array of professional technical entities, PTA, university clubs, a phenomenal STEM presentation and a visits from students from across Idaho. What an exhilarating week. It was terrific to talk with students, educators and parents. We had the opportunity to receive reports on strategic initiatives and funding plans for the coming year. Notable was a call from Supt. Ybarra for a 7.5% increase in public school funding, a push for greater investment in higher-ed scholarships, and a presentation in support of the Idaho STEM Action Center.