Dear Neighbors,
Education continues to be a major focus this week. The Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to table S1113, the third of three bills embodying Superintendent Luna’s public education reform plan. This third bill continues to need additional revisions in order for the Senate Education Committee to give it further consideration. Superintendent Luna has gone back to the drawing board to draft another bill which I hope will address the needs of the education budget and the concerns of the stakeholders, namely the teachers, school board members, superintendents and many other citizens we have heard from throughout this process. I continue to receive an overwhelming response from Idahoans on the issues which S1113 dealt with: laptops for every ninth grader, larger class sizes and not refilling 770 teaching positions after those are left vacant due to teachers retiring. The Committee hopes to see another version of the third education bill by next week that will deal with these issues. On Thursday morning, the House Education Committee voted to send S1108 and S1110, the first two of the three bills which aim to reform public education, to the House floor with a do-pass recommendation. S1108 and S1110 will likely be debated on the House Floor next week. If they pass the House, they will then go to the Governor’s desk where he has said he intends to sign them into law. S111, the bill which would allow school districts to advertise on public school busses, passed the Senate on Tuesday and is headed to the House Transportation and Defense Committee for a hearing. This legislation has the potential to raise an additional one million dollars per year for school districts. I introduced this legislation at the request of the Meridian School District. An anti-bullying bill has been amended and will be debated on the Senate Floor next week. This legislation would ensure that a violation of the bullying code would constitute an infraction and ensure that school personnel are given proper training to handle incidents of bullying. It is made clear in the statement of purpose, an introductory note included with each bill to make clear the Legislature’s intent, that school personnel are authorized and expected to intervene on behalf of a student when they see incidents of bullying. This bill includes a system of graduated consequences for bullying and is an improvement upon the bullying statue currently in Idaho Code. This morning the State Affairs Committee voted to print a bill which uses medical evidence to show that sufficient nervous system development has matured in a fetus at twenty weeks for the fetus to feel pain; this bill would outlaw abortions at twenty weeks in the interest of cruelty prevention. I expect that we will hear this bill in State Affairs within the next two weeks. The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) is in the process of setting the budget for the State’s dedicated fund agencies. The Idaho Transportation Department has presented its case to JFAC requesting additional GARVEE money which includes funding for the extension of Highway 16 from State Highway 44 to US Highway 20-26. This would have a significant impact on moving traffic north and south in western Ada County. Please show your support to your legislators. Legislation that would mandate strategic cuts to Health and Welfare has been introduced in the House of Representatives. A public hearing is likely to be scheduled next week. I encourage you to get involved in the legislative process. This has been a very busy session and it is still going strong. Please stay involved and participate in the legislative process by letting us know your thoughts on issues under consideration by the Legislature. As always, you may contact me by e-mailing me at CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov<mailto:CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov..> or by visiting my website,<>.
Senator Chuck Winder,
Assistant Majority Leader