The Balance of Power is the Scale of Peace.

Thomas Paine

We have concluded the first week of activities of the new legislative season. We are in Boise to serve you, our constituents, as best we can. As an Idaho Senator, I have around 45,000 constituents to serve. You won’t be surprised if I said there are about 45,000 different ideas on how things should be done!!!

This job is challenging and exciting for me and I strive to represent this district with my best efforts, using my experience, and your ideas. I believe we will agree on most outcomes.

I won’t attempt to explain the activities of our federal government!

I can address what is going on here in Idaho. We are going through a historically difficult time. This unprecedented pandemic has changed our lives. It has become an impossible witches brew of science and politics. At this point, reality is left far behind. So, we have to make decisions and address issues we should have considered many years ago. We could not have known how our government and laws should behave during a global pandemic.

Some of these issues relate to the balance of power between the legislative branch and the executive branch. We will make some changes to the power of the Governor. One of them is the authority to indefinitely extend states of emergency, and end the current one.

We will propose a constitutional amendment as to how special legislative sessions can be called, with more power for the legislature to influence those decisions.

We will consider what trigger’s the legislature’s involvement when federal dollars come into the state and how those should be spent.

I believe changes should be made. This is an early priority of the legislature this year.

I am offering a word of caution about constant legislative involvement, however. Our constitution refers to senators and representatives as a, “citizen legislature,” not a full time, professional one. I am sure California worked towards a full-time legislature, incrementally; justifying why they needed to make more decisions and pass endless laws and mountainous regulations. Let’s be careful for how much government we ask for…we might just get it!

You might find it interesting to know that some states, like Texas meet every other year.  Seems like they get along just fine…California, is year round…not so fine.

Let’s be smart in Idaho!

State of the State

Governor Brad Little presented the State of The State Address on Monday. This was an unusual event, considering how these things normally take place.

Normally, we would be packed in the House Chambers, with the Supreme Court and the Governor. There is a lot of pomp and circumstance, befitting our State’s historical tradition.

Instead, we were in our Senate Chambers, watching the Governor on a computer with unreliable internet. Sounds just like some of our homes!

But the facts of what the Governor would like to do and how he believes the state should spend its money was important for us to hear, agree or disagree. 

State of the State on Dist. 7…you and me

There is a $600-million surplus in revenue.

This way is over projections as we start the new year.

This is because Idaho’s business economy has been better than we anticipated. There have been big losers and big winners during this pandemic. But in Idaho, more winners. In fact, Idaho has the largest surplus in state history and one of the highest in the nation, right now. That matters!

This allows us to provide tax relief as a first order of business. All tax legislation has to start in the House of Representatives. There are all kinds of ideas on how to start that and what to do.

Northern Idaho is dependent on a good transportation system to get its agriculture, timber and mining products to market. Governor Little has proposed ideas to replace our aging bridges, and improve our transportation corridors. I am happy to see this for northern Idaho.

Governor Little has also proposed $50-million for broadband internet access to help rural Idaho compete with urban areas. This helps everyone, but it will really help our rural education efforts, health care problems and business efforts. As you know we have the worst internet  access in the state.