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Representative Judy Boyle – District 9 – January 29, 2021

Dear Friends,

The 2019 Idaho Emergency Management Plan defines a pandemic as:  25% attack rate with 432,000 cases and 1.5% fatality rate of 6,490 deaths.

Current rates are:

9.3% attack rate with 159,600 cases and 0.39 fatality rate of 1,669 deaths according to the Idaho coronavirus website when this newsletter was written. It appears we are not in a pandemic and perhaps never were in one.

Healthy citizens have been panicked into living in fear of a disease with a 99.6% recovery rate. Our businesses have suffered and many permanently closed. Our students have suffered the loss of nearly a full year of their education with many schools only teaching online or just a couple days in the classroom. High school seniors have lost out on so many of their final year of activities. Sports, FFA, music, and other events have been cancelled or severely limited. Our senior citizens in nursing homes and assisted living have been isolated from their loved ones. Hospitalized citizens have not been able to have their family with them. All these things have caused great stress to individuals and families with increases in attempted suicides and actual suicides. Drug use has increased along with domestic violence and child abuse. Too many citizens feel hopeless and see no future. Legislators receive calls and emails about all of these issues and they pull at our heartstrings. We care deeply about our constituents and it grieves us to see them in distress. 

The end of December 2020, the Governor received $51 million for vaccine rollout and testing. Earlier this week, we were told 49% of the original shipment of vaccine is still available. Today, the Governor announced 89,000 Idahoans have been vaccinated and 24,000 doses are arriving each week.

Given all of the above, on Tuesday, January 26, the Idaho House passed HCR 2 to lift the limit of 10 persons per gathering allowing Idahoans to begin to resume a normal life. Concurrent resolutions do not go to the Governor. As soon as the Senate passes the bill, it will go into effect. Here’s the bottom-line language:

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session of the Sixty-sixth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate concurring therein, that Section 1 of the December 30 order of isolation regarding the prohibition on gatherings, both public and private, of more than 10 people is hereby declared null, void, and of no force and effect.”

Committees are busy reviewing all agency fee rules for approval or rejection. A few bills have been introduced and some bills have received public hearings, either being sent to the House floor or killed in committee. One bill to revamp the authority of public health districts is being held in the House Health and Welfare Chairman’s drawer.

The Joint Appropriations and Finance Committee (JFAC) have heard some agency budget requests and been uncovering the amount of federal COVID money received into the state. Idaho has already received $8 BILLION that is not tied to the Governor’s emergency declaration which was first done March 13, 2020. The state has a $500 million surplus of Idaho tax dollars with another $600 million in the rainy day fund and more in other funds. 

The federal government is offering additional money of which their rules have not yet been written. Some feel it would not be prudent to accept more federal money regarding COVID until we can be certain what those “strings” will be which the state will be obligated to comply. In 2009 and 2010, Idaho accepted federal money without knowing the rules attached  which caused many issues for our state. “Free” federal taxpayer money is never truly “free.”

Below are some recent activities and highlights taking place in the Idaho Capitol. I hope you enjoy the information. For more details, you can log onto legislature.idaho.gov where you will find bills, committee recordings, and live stream videos of our House and Senate floor sessions. I look forward to your involvement.

Sincerely,

Judy Boyle

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