It has been a crazy week at the capitol building. It is certainly a different atmosphere because of the Coronavirus, and we have basically quarantined ourselves. I have sent out a couple newsletters regarding this situation via email. I received an email about a situation in Teton County. Someone, whom had recently been out of state, began exhibiting some symptoms and had been around other members of the community. I quickly got the governor’s office involved and we feel the situation is under control, however, please take precautions and stay isolated as much as possible. President Trump recommends not being in groups larger than 10 people. If you think you have symptoms, please get tested ASAP, isolate completely, and let District 6 or 7 Public Heath know immediately – so that they can take precautions in your area. If you live in Bonneville or Teton Counties you would need to call District 7 @ 208-522-0310. If you live in Caribou, Bear Lake, Franklin, or Oneida Counties you would need to call District 6 @ 208-233-9080. You can get tested at most hospitals and at public health district offices. The public health districts results are faster, usually 24-48 hours. Private entities have been getting results back in 3 to 7 days. For state government updates, please visit coronavirus.idaho.gov. Furthermore, we did pass emergency funding of 3.3 million dollars to combat the outbreak. We moved 19 million dollars from the Budget Stabilization Fund to the General Fund due to anticipated revenue shortfalls and uncertain times. We have gone through a lot of material this week in the legislature; therefore, I can’t explain everything in this newsletter. I will write some additional newsletters. Here are some bills and issues that we have been working on.
There has been some effort to give Idaho citizens some relief from property tax, however we are still at ground zero. The House passed a budget freeze from property tax revenue. This was House Bill 409. This was only meant to be a temporary solution until we could figure something out. However, the Senate voted this down. Next came Senate Bill 1277. This bill raised the homeowner exemption. The Farm Bureau, along with me, do not support tax shifts. This would have shifted the burden to agriculture and other landowners. SB 1277 was amended by the House, and it became a true exemption with true relief. There would not have been a shift to landowners. The Farm Bureau supported the amended version. Yet again, the Senate shot down any relief.
This was my school safety act. Senator Lakey and I teamed up to get this passed. It would have allowed school staff to carry a concealed firearm in schools K-12 with the enhanced concealed weapons permit. I have been passionate about this bill, because I care about the safety of our children. A would-be terrorist would be less likely to attack a school with armed staff. Our gun-free signs need to come down! These signs invite these would-be terrorists! We started the bill on the Senate side. It was voted down in the Senate State Affairs committee 5-4. Your senator, Senator Harris, was a co-sponsor of the bill and he voted for it in committee. I appreciate this help from Senator Harris. The other senators that voted for it were Senators Chuck Winder, Steve Vick, and Kelly Anthon. The senators who voted against it were Republicans Brent Hill, Patty-Ann Lodge, and Mary Souza. The Democrats who voted against it were Michelle Stennett and Cherie Buckner-Webb.
I have been extremely disappointed with the growth of government and the attack on the free market this legislative session. This bill was no exception. In our rural district, telehealth services are very beneficial to our citizens. This bill places more restrictions on teledentistry. Teledentistry has the same approval rate as brick and mortar dentistry, yet the argument was that this was about patient safety. I feel this was a guise. I feel it was a turf war and a bill to stifle competition. I do not like these scope of practice bills, these issues need to be dealt with by the respective board. The legislature doesn’t need to play referee every time there is a squabble about scope of practice. We have come a long way in healthcare technology, and I feel telehealth has done a good job. This bill makes it so teledentistry patients must see a dentist at a physical location, just to get a referral to participate in teledentistry. This defeats a reason many use teledentistry. Many in our district don’t have dental insurance. Teledentistry is an affordable way to receive services, such as teeth straightening. This bill passed both chambers and is now sitting on Governor Little’s desk to be signed or vetoed. The only other state with this level of restriction on teledentistry is California. Many other states have voted this down.
This is my sex offender bill. The current law states sex offenders cannot be within 500 feet of a school, my bill adds licensed daycares. It also fixed a problem in the current statute. The current statute mistakenly had an exception to allow sex offenders living in facilities to loiter on school grounds. This bill is now on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed.
Due to the Coronavirus, it is recommended that people absentee vote this year. idahovotes.gov/absentee-voter-information/
I hope you all have a good week, please do everything you can to stay safe and healthy. I will pray that our Father in Heaven protects all of us during this time of uncertainty. May he bless all of us.