I never really know the kinds of things you like to know about your Idaho Legislature. I realize most of you are no kind of political junkies who spend a lot of time studying bills and such. I try to let you know what I think you may be interested in, that I know something about. I try not to get too much detail because I realize most of you don’t care about all the fine points! I was a real person once, too!

If have thoughts on how to make this newsletter better for you…let me know!

Education gets a vote in JFAC

The biggest part of the education budget – the kindergarten through high school budget – will be decided in JFAC on Monday. I have spent considerable time trying to work on making this the best it can be. It’s not perfect. A significant part will be the literacy (reading) budget.

As most of you know, a child’s future success is hinged largely around their reading ability by the third grade. Idaho isn’t doing so well. One of Governor Little’s main campaign promises was to fix this problem for Idaho. As a result, a significant part of the budget will include more effort there.

I expect there will be more money allocated to the school districts as discretionary money. This allows school districts to make local decisions that are better for their communities.

Road district commissioners at the Capitol

Idaho’s Local Highway Technical Assistance Council met last week in Boise. Part of that group are the local highway districts. Idaho County has 12 highway districts, the most highway districts of any county in the state. Local commissioners stopped by the office for a visit. It was great to see them as I have known most of them forever! Thanks to them for stopping by!

Pictured left to right: David Poxleitner, Dick Brust, John Schumacher, Mike Duclose, Juaquin Lowe.

Transportation Funding

The never-ending wrestling match over how to handle road financing problems continues. I met with trucking people last week to work on adjusting formulas to make fees fairer for all trucks, not just the long haulers. In that discussion, it was noted Idaho has the 4th highest trucking taxes in the country.  As it is, I believe about 45% of our road fees are federal. There is legislation floating around the House right now, but I’m not seeing any long-term solution to rising costs of road repair and declining revenue per vehicle.

Cell phones: how much is too much?

We will vote on a bill in the Senate to force citizens to not use hand-held devices while driving. We have a law against distracted driving and a law against texting while driving. If we go down the path of banning cell phone use with our hands, then what about a special bill against eating a sandwich, or a bill against petting your dog, or….! You see what I mean. Sometimes we get carried away with trying to regulate and control everything. I think this probably is too much.