A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.
The seemingly never-ending saga of the dyslexia bill had a new chapter this week. Remember, dyslexia is a reading disorder that affects up to 20 percent of Idaho students. I have moved legislation through the Senate to help these kids, but the House held it up.
Finally, the shenanigans of the House Education committee ended when they voted to unanimously support the bill, with a few minor changes, and send it to the floor of the House of Representatives. The tenacious supporters of the bill drove from McCall, Council, and other parts of the state to keep pushing this idea. They are the best!!!
Higher Education Budgets
The higher education budget has drawn a lot of attention in recent years. I thought this year’s budget that went through JFAC was a very poor way to manage money. I’ll spare you the details here, check in if you are interested. I voted against this budget, contrary to some of the texts and emails you many have received!
I don’t think we will ever agree on what higher ed budgets should look like until we agree on the goal of higher education. I will continue to push for that.
The K-12 budgets are up this week!
The Heartbeat Bill, patterned after the Texas legislation that forbids abortion after about 6 weeks, passed the Senate last week. There is a tremendous amount of emotion surrounding this legislation. The Attorney General cautioned that this bill is probably unconstitutional under the current interpretation of the constitution. However, those of us who supported the bill, reflected the opinions of a preponderance of our constituents who want this legislation. It will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Fish and Game Depredation
I carried the Fish and Game Department’s funding bill again this year. One of the pieces that needed adjustment was the Depredation Fund. This is money used to reimburse farmers and ranchers when big game animals destroy their property. This has been a difficult balance to find. No one wants the damage to occur, but when it does, who should pay and how much?
A couple of years ago, a farmer was raising organic Egyptian potatoes, and they were damaged by elk. This guy got over a million dollars. Some of us thought that was outrageous, with his speculatory crop essentially insured by the Fish and Game license buyers. So now, the maximum anyone can receive is $125,000. We have raised the amount of money in the Depredation Fund, so landowners don’t have to be prorated in their claims…if they are legitimate.
Department of Agriculture Invasives
I carried the Department of Agriculture’s reconsideration of its funding, as well. As you may know, I have had some experience with invasives, but this is about quagga mussels. We are trying to keep them out of the state with inspection stations at key entry points. The program has worked well, but the department says the situation is not sustainable. I gave them half as many people as they wanted. I really struggle with expanding government.
Even though we have the money during good times…what about the bad times that are ahead? There was plenty of pushback on that opinion!
Thank you, Fisher!
Each year there are a number of high school students who work in the legislature as a Page. They do all kinds of things to help us do a better job. Once in a while, one of them just stands out. So is the case with Fisher Ault from McCall. He is a super personable young man with a lot of go. He loves mountain climbing. Fisher helped us in Senate Education and several other places.
I will guarantee you Fisher will be a really big deal! The photo is funny because I have never seen him look so straitlaced!