This was an extremely busy week in the Legislature, especially in the committees of which I am a member.  Let me fill you in.

Fewer Rules, Anyone?

Last week, Governor Brad Little announced the Red Tape Reduction Act. The stated intent was to eliminate two rules for every one added.

In line with that theme, I conducted the Senate Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, and eliminated 22 rules, replacing them with 8! That is ahead of the governor’s recommendation of 2:1.

These were commercial trucking rules that required multiple permits for many very similar loads. These rules were condensed with no additional cost to truckers.

Full disclosure: we were planning to do this even before Governor Little made his announcement about the Red Tape Reduction Act.

Getting rid of unnecessary red tape is just the right thing to do…always!

School Funding Formula

I have worked much of this week on the school funding formula problem, even though this won’t affect schools until 2021. The biggest problem in our district is with the Orofino school district. I used them as an example of the problem in Senate Education last week.  All the experts were trying to figure a solution on the big screen. They couldn’t come up with one but have been working on it since; I believe we are getting there. Big thanks to Dr. Mike Garrett, Orofino Superintendent for being a big push on this issue.

Here’s the story from Senate Education:

Suicide Prevention Funding

I’m going to rein it in here, but we had the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare give budget presentations this past week in JFAC. We are talking serious money here…about $4 billion. What has happened to us? This is money taken from hardworking Americans to help those less fortunate. I know we have a huge population increase since the good ol’ days, but my gosh this is a gigantic price tag.

As many of you know, I have been trying to help our district with our serious suicide issue. But under the concept of trying to save lives AND be accountable for the money spent. This is a concept that is really difficult for department personnel to grasp.
The finance committee, under my insistence last year, required a plan to be written that would give us measurable outcomes in terms of lives saved. It has been a long, rough journey. The short story is that now there is a plan to measure outcomes, and therefore be accountable for the money spent AND lives saved.

So, what does the department do? This year they asked for twice as much money. After three or four years of not being able to account for anything but effort, the public should double its spend? I think not.

I’m not hardnosed unless I have to be, and this is one of those times I have to be.  Let’s get this right. Let’s make sure the plan works, and when we do the new relationships will work.

Here’s an article from the Lewiston Morning Tribune you might be interested in reading on the subject:

TV and Radio

Tune in every Friday at 6:00 pm on Wallace 3 TV where I will be talking about what is happening in the Idaho Legislature.  This week we will be talking about funding for education and cuts in commercial trucking regulations.  You can also catch me every Monday on KLER in Orofino at 12:15 pm and 5:20 pm on 1300AM and 95.1FM.

Honors from FFA

I was very honored and proud to be one of two legislators presented an Honorary State FFA Degree. It was presented at the State FFA meeting in Boise last week. The presenter stated this award is, “for outstanding service and support of the Idaho FFA Association and agricultural education in Idaho.”
As a tireless supporter of agriculture and youth leadership for my entire life, this recognition is really important to me. We didn’t have FFA when I was a kid, so I developed my leadership skills through another important youth program, 4-H. Thank you for the recognition!