TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

After three years of discussion, debates and working to see legislation to ban texting while driving come to fruition in Idaho, there is finally a bill to ban texting while driving headed to the Governor’s desk. This bill defines texting as, "engaging in the review of, or manual preparation and transmission of, written communications via wireless handheld devices." This law would have made an exception for, "persons driving law enforcement, fire or emergency medical vehicles…. while engaging in the course and scope of their duties." However, the House amended the bill to remove these exemptions and add that points will not count as penalty points against insurance. After passing the House, this bill went back to the Senate where the amendments were approved. The Governor is expected to sign the bill and I hope this bill will help all Idahoans understand the serious nature of texting while driving.
HOMEOWNERS EXEMPTION

I was the Senate floor sponsor of HB 584<www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2012/H0584.h…4.htm>, a bill that would continue the homeowners’ property tax exemption after the death of an owner, during the year of the death and the year following. "This would allow for the estate and the family to deal with that in a timely manner," said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, the bill’s sponsor.

It takes a long time to settle an estate and I believe this bill gives the estate and the family enough time to do so. In committee, Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade testified in favor of the bill, saying it took him about a year and a half to settle his mother’s estate, during which time the estate paid full property taxes. The idea was brought to me by former Ada County Commissioner Mike Johnson, when he called it the "unknown quiet death tax."
CHARTER SCHOOL CAP

Today, Governor Otter signed into law HB 481, a bill which lifts all caps on creation of new charter schools in Idaho, into law. I sponsored this bill in the Senate last week, where it passed on a 22-12 vote.

Previously, Idaho limited the creation of new charter schools to six per year and one per school district. With passage of this law, both limits are removed. I believe this cap prevents federal and private grants from flowing to the Gem State. In testifying in favor of the bill, I referenced a letter from the Walton Family Foundation, an education choice organization, which described the state as less than charter friendly. This affects Idaho’s consideration in education grant applications.

I believe strongly in school choice in education, and I supported this law to continue the progress Idaho is making to improve the state’s system of education.

CONCUSSIONS

Yesterday, the Idaho Senate passed a bill which aims to protect young athletes who have received possible concussions. H 632 gives individual schools flexibility to determine their own guidelines stating when an athlete should be taken out of a game after a head concussion and when that player is able to return. After passing both the House and Senate, H 632 now heads to the Governor’s desk where he is expected to sign it.
Matt Kaiserman, a former BSU special teams football player who now works for Gallatin Public Policy in Boise worked very hard to see this legislation pass. Kaiserman received a career ending tackle which broke his face mask and left him unconscious at the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas in 2010. He now lobbies for the National Football League to bring awareness to the serious nature of concussions in athletics. Kaiserman urged the Idaho State Legislature to pass legislation to set up guidelines for athletes to be removed a game when he or she receives head injuries that could cause a concussion. I am thankful that Matt Kaiserman was successful in helping to pass legislation that will be proactive in taking precautions for such serious injuries.

NEW CAPITOL PARKING GARAGE

This morning, the Senate State Affairs Committee took up the new parking garage bill from the House, which the House passed on a 61-3 vote. This bill would allow the state to build a new multi-million dollar parking garage near the Statehouse. House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke and I have worked together on this and are sponsoring this bill. The plan for a parking garage near the Capitol would cost between $8 million to $10 million and be paid for by refinancing some state bonds.

We believe that the state has a major parking problem. Even when the Legislature is out of session, visitors still have difficulty finding parking spots around the Capitol. I believe there is a legitimate worry that these parking problems keeps citizens away from "the people’s house."

Thank you again to everyone who has contacted me with comments and concerns for legislation which affects your daily life in Idaho. Please continue to contact me by phone at 208-332-1307, but e-mail at CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov<mailto:CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov..>, and online at www.ChuckWinder.com<www.ChuckWinder.com>.

Sincerely,

Senator Chuck Winder

Assistant Majority Leader







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