February 15, 2013

I first want to thank anyone who came to testify at the Joint Senate and House Education Hearings on Monday. I was pleased to see so many stakeholders able to attend and share their concerns and ideas for improving Idaho Schools. Approximately 37 people were able to share their thoughts with the Committees and several additional written testimonies were included with the minutes. The overall themes of the testimonies have been:
* Let the Education Task Force do its job and bring this legislation
* These bills are a repetition of Superintendent Luna’s Students Come First Laws
* Basic school funding

* Charter school funding

* The disparity between public and charter school funding

* Occasionally a new idea is brought forth
I continue to be encouraged by the amount of people willing to come and share their thoughts at the public hearings designed to give large amounts of people the opportunity to share their ideas. My colleagues and I appreciate the public taking their time to give input and bring new ideas to the process.
This week the Senate did something that is not often done: they voted to not confirm the Governor’s appointment to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, Ms. Joan Hurlock. The Confirmation was sent to the Senate Floor from the Senate Resources and Environment Committee with a "Do-Not-Pass Recommendation." The Senate acted on that recommendation by not confirming the appointment, citing a lack of basic knowledge and experience of hunting and fishing regulation, rules and policy. It isn’t enjoyable to report to someone that the Idaho State Senate does not find them to be qualified for the position to which they have been appointed; however, I believe the decision the Senate made is in the best interest of the sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists and the people of Idaho.
This week the House introduced an alternative to the Governor’s bill to create a State-Based Health Care Exchange, S 1042. As you may know, sixteen freshman legislators from the house worked together to create a new bill to establish a state health care exchange. As stated in the Idaho Press Tribune Thursday, this alternative to the Governor’s State Health Care Exchange Bill would allow for greater oversight of the legislature by including, "provisions forbidding Idaho from using State taxpayer money to fund it, adds two non-voting legislators to an 18-member exchange board of directors, and requires the board meet openly so the public can monitor its decisions." Overall, this bill also attempts to preserve a greater degree of state sovereignty than the previous bill for a state-run exchange. I continue be open to the discussion and debate taking place for whether a state health insurance exchange should be established in Idaho. As for the Governor’s Bill, S 1042, it is on the Senate Calendar and may be taken up by the full Senate for debate sometime next week or thereafter.
In Senate Transportation this week, we printed several bills to be heard in coming weeks. One that may be of interest to residents of District 20 and those who work in Meridian was a bill printed Monday brought by Senator Jim Rice, which would provide that road construction not block access or unreasonably divert traffic from businesses. On Tuesday, we heard several bills:
* S 1050 Requires anyone applying for a wholesale dealer’s license to complete an ITD-approved four-hour education program developed and offered by the Idaho State Independent Automobile Dealers Association.
* H 39 Provides statutory authority for initial and subsequent license fees for recreational vehicles.
* H 41 Clarifies when visually impaired individuals are considered competent to drive a motor vehicle.
* H 85 Provides for filling a board vacancy for single county-wide highway districts.
In Senate State Affairs this week we spent quite a bit of time hearing confirmation hearings for appointments made by Governor Otter and printed several bills. Bills printed that might be of interest include:
* S 1079 which would establish an Internet Crimes Against Children Unit in the Office of the Attorney General. This unit would research internet crimes against children.
* S 1078 to prohibit public universities from discriminating against religious student groups.
* S 1107 would provide for electronic transmission of assessment notices to the taxpayer upon request by the taxpayer.
As an update for the legislation for privacy from unmanned aircraft, I am working with several stakeholders including the ACLU, the Aeronautics Division with the Idaho Transportation Department and the Sheriff’s Association to work on the language of the bill. I will continue to work on this legislation and keep you updated on its progress.
You may recall that on Friday of last week in State Affairs we printed two pieces of legislation brought by the Association of Idaho Cities, which I sponsored, Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 112 and Senate Joint Memorial (SJM) 101. To refresh your memory, these two pieces of legislation make statements that the State of Idaho does not support the legalization of marijuana for any purpose. I have received some e-mails with concerns for laws being created. I want to take a moment to clarify that a concurrent resolution and a joint memorial do not create laws, but rather make position statements.
* A SCR is a statement position made by the Idaho State Legislature to go on the record. In this case, the SCR makes the statement that Idaho does not support the legalization of marijuana for any purpose.
* A SJM is a statement and request made by the Idaho Legislature and addressed to whomever can effectuate the request of the memorial. In this case, the Joint Memorial is addressed to the US President, US Department of Justice and the US Congress. The Joint Memorial asks those addressed to uphold federal drug-free policy in all 50 States.
Thank you again for the many e-mails regarding issues important to you and important to Idaho. I read everything that comes across my desk and I appreciate knowing how you feel about these issues. Please continue to contact me via e-mail at CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov<mailto:CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov..>, by calling my office at 332-1307, by visiting my website at WWW.ChuckWinder.com<WWW.ChuckWinder.com>, and by visiting me on facebook. Please have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
Senator Chuck Winder
Assistant Majority Leader