Before you read any further, I want to clarify that 99.99% of our teachers and school staff are talented, passionate and the utmost professional. They care about our kids and they put their heart and souls into preparing the future of this great nation.

With that said, we need to be aware of the exceptions. Did you know that we currently allow convicted violent felons to teach school, as long as their crime was not against an child? There are many who believe that if someone has committed violent felonies against an adult, that person could commit violence against a child, and I am sad to write today that has already happened.

To prevent it from happening again, I presented Senate Bill 1323. If this bill passes, it would stop certification of a teacher who have been convicted of a violent felony against any Idahoans, adult and child.

You would think this would be a bill that would quickly be passed, however it did spark a lot of debate. Ultimately, it cleared the committee and will I am looking forward to presenting it on the Senate floor soon.

Ambulance bill

We have a problem in the Kamiah and Kooskia areas with regard to ambulance districts. We have two counties that would potential like to create an ambulance district, but right now that is next to impossible to do with any financial efficiency.

Idaho County Commissioner, Skip Brandt,  proposed legislation that will solve the problem. It creates ambulance districts like fire districts, essentially taking them out of the hands of the County Commissioners and putting them in the hands of those who will pay for them. It doesn’t create a new tax that isn’t already possible, it simply puts the decisions directly in the hands of the people who write the checks.

As any thing else in the Legislature, it seems simple, but the bill is at least 16 pages long. The attorneys in the Senate had a great time giving me a hard time when I presented the bill. They were good-hearted, but made sure to impress each other with their vast array of knowledge on the subject.

Ya gotta love them lawyers!

Goodbye to our Senate Pages

We said goodbye to a great group of Senate Pages. These young women are two of a handful of high school seniors from all over Idaho who help legislators and their assigned committees each year. The first class of 2020 were some great kids, and we look forward to the second class to help us through the end of the session.

Common Core

On Wednesday the Senate voted to create a standards content group, an interim committee, with the plan to end Common Core. That same afternoon, our Education Committee agreed that accountability of our educational system was first and foremost to the people who pay for it, while we create the new standards.

I hope that as we work to make standards more acceptable to more people, we can do it with an eye to saving money as well.

I am optimistic that the Senate has a path forward for new standards in Idaho.

Budget

In JFAC, we have finished the budget hearings which means we have heard from each department on how their money is being used and they present their request for the coming year.

That was the easy part…now the hard part begins.

These days you will find those of us on JFAC working through budgets nearly every morning, noon and night. There is some $4,000,000,000 (4 billion) in General Fund money and about that much more in dedicated and federal funding.

This is a huge responsibility and I don’t forget for a minute how darned hard it is to earn just one of those dollars.

Idaho Cattle Association luncheon

Cowboy hats in the Capitol Rotunda this past week as the Idaho Cattle Association prepared some delicious Idaho beef for the annual Legislative luncheon with ICA leadership. As a former President of the ICA, it was great to see some of my old friends. The cattle industry continues to help drive this state’s economy.