The pace has slowed a bit, and the rhythm of committee meetings and floor sessions has returned. I get an opportunity to talk to a number of groups and associations which come to Boise during the session for their annual meeting. I typically am in a panel with the ProTem and the Speaker, but this week got to follow the Governor speaking to the Credit Unions. I have to admit that I never thought that I would be the voice of the opposition. But when there is no opposition party, there is no democracy. (a paraphrase of T. Jefferson)
The second redistricting commission produced a map in response to the constitutional objections upheld by the Supreme Court in just two days. They presented the map to the Secretary of State on Monday, and so far, even though there are some unhappy areas, there has not been suit filed contesting the map. My new district includes Nez Perce and Lewis County, just about what I thought it would be when we started this last summer. The really nice thing is that we are done (??) in time to have the filing period later this month and the primary election in May as originally scheduled.
On Tuesday we introduced the Democratic jobs package. Besides improving support for colleges and technical training, it contains six bills:
The Value-added agriculture bill–help the development of enterprises that use the strong agriculture base to increase jobs. These might be cheese makers, meat packing, soup or noodle plants. Growing and producing commodities is good, but having the value adding enterprises (and their jobs too) is even better.
The Finder Fee Tax Credit–Reward businesses who convince their suppliers and customers to move their businesses to Idaho
Micro enterprise bridge loan program–develops a “revolving loan” program that helps entrepreneurs bridge the funding gap between personal funds and investors and commercial loans.
Broadband development–calls for the FCC and Congress to do more for telecom in frontier and rural states.
The transparency and accountability Act–assuring that the tax credits and other programs to develop jobs actually perform as expected.
A State Partnership Bank study. North Dakota has a longstanding state bank that many believe assessed the state significantly during the credit crunch by helping community banks lend to businesses. Would it be of value here in Idaho?
The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee had another hearing where they took testimony from citizens instead of just from state agencies. This is one of the really good outcomes of the Statehouse renovation, the Legislative Auditorium that holds 250 people. The crowded auditorium, the heartfelt testimony helps us understand the consequences of our legislatures decisions. The cuts to community mental health services were prominent. Hopefully committee members were listening.
I introduced a special license plate bill in House Transportation Committee yesterday. It was suggested by the Nez Perce County Historical Society, and the proceeds of the plates will fund historic preservation activities throughout the State. Here is a link to a story that includes a “mock up” of the plate. Interestingly, there was also a proposal to do away with special license plates introduced in the Senate. We’ll see what happens…….
Help me represent you…..
Bills are beginning to move through the system. TheLegislative Website lists the bills. You can sort by subject and find ones that affect you or are otherwise of interest. And be sure and keep me appraised.
Information and Contact Information
I will be trying to get a newsletter out weekly throughout the session. It is one of the ways I try to keep in touch, so feel free to pass these on through your friends and organizations.
Another way to keep track of things down here is through the papers and blogs (Betsy Russell’s Eye on Boise, Bill Spence (of the Tribune) Political Theatre, Dan Popkey (of theStatesman)Idaho Politics) are among the best.
And I again invite you to check out my healthcare/health politics blog Idaho Housecalls
You can call and leave a message at home (208-743-1339) but it often takes a while for Kay to get the message down to me. My Boise office is 208-332-1130. A better way is to and I will get back to you.
If you lose my email address, the Legislative website is another good access point, and has links to bills and committee meeting, agendas and minutes.
It continues to by my honor to serve as your representative.