The bill I carried to keep convicted violent felons from teaching school in Idaho passed the Senate, but not without one of the most dramatic debates and votes that I have seen in my four years in office.

The conversation wasn’t about this being a bad idea, but whether someone’s livelihood would come to an end because of a decision they’d made when they were much younger. The question some of my colleagues had was were they being punished again after already paying their dues. My response on the Senate floor, “Do you want your kids in the classroom with someone who MIGHT have turned their life around?”

I started this bill to prevent what had already happened from happening again.

Over the past several weeks we have found 10 to 20 people are teaching now in Idaho who would be affected. I did amend the bill to allow folks who were in this group to have a possible appeals process through the Professional Standards Board.

When Senators began voting after some really passionate debate, most passed the first time. I thought the bill was in real trouble. Then with a few changes, the bill was on to its second second round, they dug deep. It wasn’t partisan, it was personal, to them.

Ultimately, the bill passed 24-10

Transportation cuts

Last week I presented the budget for the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), which included decisions on more than $900 million.

We proposed cutting some positions that are not being filled and putting a cap on the amount of carryover. There is usually an average of 83 open positions each year and they currently only have 15 being advertised. I received a bit of pushback which surprised me as ITD has been great to work with over the years. However, they decided to try to get around me over the personnel change. They went to other members of the budget team, and even went to the governor’s office. However, the team stuck with me, and so did the Governor’s office. I was very disappointed in ITD over this behavior.

I proposed the cuts and the cap to JFAC, and both passed unanimously!

Skip Brandt and the Ambulance Bill

Senate Bill 1332, allowing local people to create the ambulance districts that they will pay for, passed the Senate this week, with considerable debate.

I think it is important to know that this bill was proposed by Skip Brandt, Idaho County Commissioner. It was his idea and he worked tirelessly, doing the background work that it took to get this bill passed.

Skip worked effectively in the background to get everyone on board and his passion and efforts paid off. While I presented the bill in committee and to the entire Senate, Skip was really the heavy lifter! (And no, he didn’t ask me to say this!)

Leadership Idaho Agriculture

I attended a couple of events involving Leadership Idaho Agriculture and was excited to see Riggins native, James Boggan.

This is an extensive training program to help young people be better advocates for agriculture and as part of their training they visit us at the legislature.

It turns out James is now working for Simplot Land and Livestock as a Rangeland Monitoring Specialist. I have known James, his parents Doug and Sharon, and his sister Jenna. I am proud of the young man James has become.