In an effort to gain deeper awareness in a variety of arenas across the state, I visited a number facilities during the summer and fall:
Corrections Corporation of America Facility
Opportunity to observe differing levels of incarceration, programs, medical facilities, and talked to social workers and employees.
Idaho National Laboratory(INL)
Comprehensive introduction to research programs, facilities, education and overview of historic and current facility priorities and operations. I was particularly excited to learn about the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) a research and education collaboration with Boise State University, INL, Idaho State University and the University of Idaho.
Miracle at Work Forest Tour
A look at current forest management practices and the latest technology in wood products manufacturing in Idaho.
Coeur d’Alene Tribe
Introduction to the Tribe’s culture, governance, services, operations, projects, and facilities.
Thompson Creek Mine Tour
The expansive site consists of two large molybdenum mines as well as a number of additional metal projects under development.
I was also fortunate to take part in a number of developmental opportunities:
Education Leaders Institute,Designing Education with Arts at the Core established and convened by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council The emphasis is on bringing together leaders from multiple disciplines focused on creating powerful, sustainable arts education systems throughout the nation, thereby strengthening education for all children.
The Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Virginia Darden School of BusinessThe sessions are designed to develop the potential and vision of policy makers to the fullest – an intense and rewarding experience.
The Council of State Governments Policy Academy for Newly Elected Legislators, part of the Policy Academy Series. Focus of the two-day event was on development and implementation of Common Core Standards in Education.
All wonderful learning opportunities.
2012 Legislative Session
Clearly, we faced formidable challenges in the 2011 legislative session. Some of the decisions made and legislation enacted, will have far-reaching and in some instances, unfortunate effects. I look forward to a more productive session in 2012: one that is people-focused, one that in which leadership, collaboration, and prioritization are demonstrated to address the crucial issues that cry out for attention.
I remain concerned about the scope, implementation and impact of the education legislation passed last session. Our public schools are in crisis. We must include teachers in the dialogue and acknowledge the critical role they play in ensuring the success of our students now and in the future. The discussion continues.
Health Care Exchange
The legislature will be grappling with decisions around the insurance exchange. Though some objection remains, there is a great deal of support for building an Idaho exchange among many stakeholders: businesses, the insurance industry and healthcare providers.
Redistricting On January 5th, the Idaho Supreme court will hear the Twin Fall challenge to the Redistricting Commission Plan. Several northern Idaho counties have presented second challenge which is slated for a January 19th hearing.
The state is showing a surplus for the upcoming fiscal year, more than recently projected – that’s the good news. The major challenge is how to best allocate the surplus.
Many additional issues will be addressed in this session – the list is long. Please let me know what is on your mind, what is most important to you, your concerns, your suggestions, and the impact of proposed legislation on you and your family. I look forward to hearing from you.