Legislative Update Week 3

Dear Friends, It is an honor and privilege to continue to represent and serve District 9.  I continue my commitment to you and your family.  The views and values of the residents of our communities are important to me.  I enjoy visiting with constituents when they visit the Capitol. Here are a few familiar faces. 

Ranelle Crosby representing Rogue Credit Union during Credit Union Day at the Capitol. 

Education Week at the Capitol always  brings many friends. 

Teachers from Fruitland visit the Capitol to meet and discuss important issues related to K-12 programs. 
Mayors and city council members from Weiser, Payette, and Midvale at the Association of Idaho Cities Lunch 

Below are some recent activities and highlights taking place in the Idaho Capitol. I hope you enjoy the information.  I look forward to hearing from you. 
 All the best,  Senator Abby Lee  
WEEK 3: LEGISLATIVE UPDATE Education Week at the Idaho Capitol

It’s Education Week at the Idaho Capitol, and the State Superintendent and presidents of Idaho colleges and universities made presentations to the Education Committees and the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. 

State Superintendent Debbie Critchfield presented her budget priorities for the upcoming year. Several items in Critchfield’s budget differed from Gov. Little’s budget, including a boost in career-technical programs, learning materials to help reverse pandemic-related learning loss, money to offset the rising cost of diesel fuel and busing, and mandatory training for local school trustees. In the weeks to come, a bipartisan House-Senate working group will draft six separate K-12 budget bills, which will account for nearly half of the overall state budget. It will be their job to reconcile differences between Critchfield’s requests, Little’s recommendations, and the legislature’s final recommendation.

Lewis-Clark State College President Dr. Cynthia Pemberton touted efforts to bring in-person learning to a state prison in Orofino as well as the college’s nursing program, which is highly-ranked nationally for affordability and online offerings. Dr. Pemberton urged lawmakers to approve Gov. Little’s request for a 4% state employee pay raise, saying it would help increase instructor pay that currently sits behind the average salary for an Idaho K-12 teacher. 

Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee emphasized $7 million to expand the physician assistant’s program in Pocatello, and $6 million to develop a vacant site near Idaho State’s Meridian campus. He also pitched another program that didn’t make the budget: $450,000 to build out Idaho State’s academic advising team. 

Boise State University President Dr. Marlene Tromp also addressed the Committee and shared BSU’s efforts to assist first generation students as well as academic success. She faced questions on student fee hikes, line-item spending, public radio funding, speaker’s fees, and plans for a new vice provost for inclusion and belonging. 

University of Idaho President Scott Green presented an update on increased enrollment with a focus on building key programs. He detailed the importance of addressing the need for cybersecurity programs in today’s world. President Green also recognized the continuing need for teachers and education leaders in Idaho. He also addressed issues in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion by clarifying its critical role in student success. 

The Community College presidents emphasized workforce education, transfer education, dual-credit courses, career-technical education and community connections during their presentations. Dr. Rick Aman, President of College of Eastern Idaho, characterized Idaho’s community colleges as accessible, affordable, nimble, flexible and responsible. Dean Fisher, President of the College of Southern Idaho, explained that our community colleges are regional, affordable hubs of education that serve students and local industry in each of our distinctive regions in distinctive ways. Committee chairman Sen. Dave Lent (R-Idaho Falls) commended the schools at the end of the presentation: “This particular piece of higher ed, I believe, is the sweet spot. You really are the future as we look to where we’ve been in education and where we’re going in education…we all appreciate so much of what you do.”  Health & Welfare Committees Host Medicaid Administrator For Update On Medicaid Expansion In Idaho As required by Idaho Code 56-267, the legislature is required to make a recommendation during this session on whether expansion should remain in effect. Idaho Medicaid Division Administrator Juliet Charron updated a joint Legislative Health and Welfare committee on the three years since the passing of Medicaid Expansion. Charron began her presentation by outlining the scope of the program, with 145,000 Idahoans gaining coverage since implementation. She added that Medicaid’s focus is to prioritize preventative services for this group to avoid hospitalizations and contain costs that would have otherwise fallen to the state, counties and providers without Medicaid expansion. Charron also discussed the rising costs of the program, identifying an increased caseload, higher utilization of services versus projections and supplemental payments to hospitals as culprits. Despite this, the state is paying less for medical care for these Idahoans; instead of the uninsured being paid for via taxes or written off by hospitals, 90% of their bills are paid with federal funds. There have also been lower costs to healthcare providers, who have spent $42 million less on charity care and $61 million less on debt from unpaid bills since implementation. “We know that it alleviates the burden on the state and county to support the indigent population, allows the state to remove the (catastrophic medical bill fund), and we are now able to claim federal match for behavioral health services,” Charron said. In an attempt to address spending, the Division of Financial Management contracted with a consultant to review cost containment opportunities in Medicaid and is now reviewing recommendations. The department is also reviewing eligibility for the program; many people were enrolled through the period of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency. The continuous enrollment requirement was decoupled from the emergency and ended effective April 1, 2023, and it will take six months to complete redeterminations for those who were enrolled in this fashion.  Amending the Idaho ConstitutionThe Senate State Affairs Committee voted to print Senate Joint Resolution 101. This bill would propose a constitutional amendment requiring initiative petitions be signed by at least 6% of legal voters in the last general election in each legislative district. While a similar bill was passed by the Legislature last year, it was overturned by the Idaho Supreme Court. Bill sponsor Sen. Doug Okuniewicz (R-Hayden) said that putting the change to voters via a constitutional amendment rather than the Legislature “should inoculate it from any legal trouble.” Constitutional amendments require the approval of two-thirds of both the Idaho House and Senate before being voted on by Idaho citizens.  IDAHO BY THE NUMBERS
Each year, the Boise State School of Public Service asks Idaho adults about a wide variety of topics. The Eighth Annual Idaho Public Policy Survey was conducted November 10-17, 2022, and surveyed 1,000 adults living in Idaho. The sample is representative of the state’s population, both geographically and demographically, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. The survey covered a variety of topics, including the economy, state budgeting, taxes, education, growth, housing, the environment, and crime.

Here are some of the key findings:

  HB 0001 This bill would ensure that post-election audits of paper ballots are conducted using a hand count of those paper ballots. Passed by the House and referred to Senate State Affairs Committee.

HB 0002 This bill would withhold tax revenues from local government entities that issue proclamations or take actions to defy state law and refuse to investigate or enforce Idaho criminal abortion statutes. Reported out of Committee with Do Pass recommendation, Filed for Third Reading. 

HB 0018 This bill would make permanent, chapter 72, section 451 of Idaho Code, which identifies Post Traumatic Stress Injury as an occupational injury affecting Idaho’s first responders and makes treatment for “clear and convincing” injuries eligible for worker’s compensation. The bill is on the second reading calendar in the House.

SB 1001 This bill would repeal existing code that requires rules for state agencies to manage the acquisition, rental, tax status, and record-keeping for state-owned dwellings. Passed the Senate 34-0 and will be sent to the House for its consideration.

SB 1002 This bill would amend Idaho’s abortion law to put the focus on whether a living human child is being killed, as well as offering clarity on medical intervention in the case of ectopic pregnancy and other medical situations. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee.

SB 1003 This bill would amend existing law to provide that a bidder, offeror, contractor, or subcontractor shall not be required to provide access to a multiple occupancy restroom, multiple occupancy shower facility, or multiple occupancy changing room on any basis other than biological sex. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee.

SB 1004 This bill would add to existing law to provide for immunity for criminal prosecution when force is used in certain instances and to provide for reimbursement for a defendant in certain instances. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee.

SB 1005 This bill would amend existing law to require licensed daycare facilities to notify parents/guardians of their right to vaccine exemptions anytime there is communication to parents/guardians regarding vaccine requirements. Printed and referred to Health & Welfare Committee. 

SB 1006 This bill would add a new chapter to Title 19 of Idaho Code to provide for enforcement of federal immigration law and would provide procedures for the Idaho Attorney General to seek equitable relief from a government entity found in violation of Title 19 of Idaho Code, including denial of sales tax distribution funds. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee.

SB 1007 This bill would repeal Section 46-802 of Idaho Code, which prohibits members of organizations other than the National Guard, unorganized militia, or select other groups from associating and parading in public with firearms. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee. 

SB 1008 This bill would amend Chapter 33, Title 18 of Idaho Code to prohibit the administrations of public colleges and universities from placing limitations on the possession, carrying or transporting of concealed weapons or ammunition on campus grounds. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee. 

SB 1009 This bill would create a revised section to Chapter 90, Title 39 of Idaho Code. This section would establish health rights under the law for medical patients, their family members, and legal guardians; ensure fairness of treatment, enhance patient awareness of medical treatment drugs, and install patient safeguards with respect to requirements for informed consent and the use of experimental drugs. Printed and referred to Health & Welfare Committee.

SB 1010 This bill would amend Section 49-639 regarding slow moving vehicles. Vehicles that are moving slower than the normal speed of traffic will have to turn off of the roadway at the next available location where it is safe and reasonable to do so. Printed and referred to Transportation Committee.

SB 1011 This bill would add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act, provides definitions for these terms, and amends the stated purpose of the Act consistent with the legislation’s other amendments. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee.

SB 1012 This bill would amend Title 39 of Idaho Code by adding a new chapter providing for a “Patient’s Right to Visitation,” where Idaho families will have the fundamental right to visit their loved ones receiving care in hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities. No health care facility in Idaho may require a vaccine as a condition of visitation and every health care facility must allow their residents and patients to be hugged by their loved ones. This right of visitation cannot be waived by an emergency declaration. Printed and referred to Health and Welfare Committee.

SB 1013 This bill would move the authority for the Institutional Control Program, a key component of the remedial actions being implemented for the cleanup at the Bunker Hill Superfund Site, from administrative rule to statute. Printed and referred to Health & Welfare Committee.

SB 1014 This bill would modify Chapter 1, Title 39, Idaho Code, Section 39-105 to add a new subsection (5)(c), which allows the director of the Department of Environmental Quality to enter into voluntary funding agreements with public agencies, municipal corporations, and private parties. Printed and referred to Health & Welfare Committee.

SB 1015 This bill would modify Section 33-152D of Idaho code to allow only students who attend public school “full-time” to be eligible for the Extended Learners program. Printed and referred to Education Committee.

SB 1016 This bill would amend Section 67-2802A to prohibit all public entities and political subdivisions in Idaho from requiring public works contractors to provide restroom and changing room facilities that they own or control on any basis other than biological sex. Printed and referred to State Affairs Committee. 

SB 1017 This bill would allow Idaho Parks and Recreation to sell two-year vessel certificates of number and two-year protection against invasive species stickers. This bill would also move invasive species rules to statute. Printed and referred to Resources & Environment Committee.

SJR 101 This bill would propose a constitutional amendment requiring initiative petitions be signed by at least 6% of legal voters in the last general election in each legislative district. Referred to State Affairs Committee. 

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