Lori McCann Heading
Friday Message

February 2, 2024

Greetings from Boise!  Another week is about to end…and a week it was!

On Monday I started my morning at 7 a.m. with a great group of Legislators talking about the week’s legislative calendar, the bills we would surely hear, and discussing the pros and cons we likely will hear during the floor debate.  This is a great opportunity to talk with other Legislators, discuss our own districts and what we are hearing from our constituents and others across the State.

This was Ag week here at the Capitol and we had the great opportunity of meeting with U of I Ag students who came down for meetings of their own, and to meet with Legislators at our Ag Committee but also, we had a wonderful dinner with about 25 students and their advisors/professors.  The students introduced themselves and told a group of us what they planned to do after graduation.  I would say 80% of the students said they would be going back to the family farm/ranch upon graduation.  This really warmed my heart to hear so many students wanting to continue working in the family business.  Some were 5th generation and were so proud to be going home!  Idaho is AG STRONG and these future leaders are very impressive!

Between this week and last, we had the pleasure to see many of our City and County elected Officials and to officially welcome them to the Capitol.   Having the opportunity to visit and talk about needs on the home front in a relaxed setting, is always a highlight for me.  I had the chance to sit down with Mayor Johnson, Council woman Liedke from Lewiston, and Moscow’s Mayor Bettige, along with most of his council and other City employees was a royal treat!  This week the County Officials treated us to a lovely breakfast where we heard some of their needs, along with having an opportunity to talk about the areas we are working on and most passionate about.  Thanks to Rep’s Mitchell and Sheperd along with Senator Hart for their updates as well.  It was great to see Commissioners, other elected officials from NPC, Lewis County, Latah County, Clearwater County and Idaho County join us for discussions.  Also, we had the opportunity to talk with many of our local Sheriffs who gave us their thoughts on the Fentanyl Bill that we heard later that day.  I always appreciate the time I can spend with our local elected officials.  Also, this week, I was able to spend time with the North/South Latah County Highway District.  Last year the Legislature sent a nice appropriation to our Highway Districts to upgrade and fix the roads.  They wanted to give thanks for the funds and told me about several great projects they completed with the funding.  They are hoping they can get a similar amount this year to continue the great work so they can keep your roads in the best shape possible.  We will see where that leads in the weeks ahead.  I am hoping we can continue with this necessary help so roads can be properly maintained and not sit and deteriorate for many years before repairs can be made again.  Continual repairs and maintenance save money in the long run.

On Thursday, the Idaho Home Builders Assn., invited Legislators to lunch.  We were broken up by region and sat with our colleagues from Sandpoint down to Riggins.  Districts 6 and 7 were represented by Rep, Mitchell, myself, and Representative Sheperd.  We discussed the “affordable” housing crisis that is happening all across our state.  There must be a way for us to work together to find some answers to this challenge.  With the rising interest rates this year, the housing starts have been down.  We heard from folks that they are hopeful that we will continue to see the rates inch back down, but we probably should not expect them to get back to 2.5-3.5% anytime soon.

On the floor this week, we passed a fentanyl bill that had a substantial amount of debate.  The challenge for some was a portion of the bill that allowed for a charge of “Drug Induced Homicide,” if a drug laced with fentanyl causes a death.  The bill passed and there is talk that the Senate may tweak a few things before we are done with this bill once and for all.  Another contentious bill on the floor was HB415, the bill that allows teachers and other employees of a school district to conceal carry a weapon.  The bill passed out of the house, without amendments on a 56-13-1 vote, but not without a lot of questions, comments, and concern.  Myself, along with many other republican legislators, tried to encourage the bill sponsor to make some changes to the bill, but in the end, he did not want to make the changes, and the bill passed as was presented in committee.  I have had discussions with many Senators who have the same challenges that many on the house floor had, and we anticipate some changes to the bill before it is passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee.  I guess time will tell.  Although I had some real reservations about a couple of sections in the bill, I felt it was a bill that needed to move forward.

The Charter bill I mentioned last week passed on the house floor almost unanimously!  A big win for Idaho’s School Choice.   In House Education, I presented a bill that will help, in particular, Moscow High School students wanting to get a CNA certificate.  Idaho has what we call “Advanced Opportunities,” where high school students can take dual credits, and Career and Technical Courses to get them a certificate or knowledge to move into a program at a higher education institution.  The State contributes to the cost of these courses.  This bill will allow students to utilize the funding piece for CTE Courses up to the amount of $1000 per year.  The current law says a student can use $500 per course, up to $1000 per year.  Courses, unfortunately, are costing more now, so we are trying to give some flexibility in spending the same $1000.  Moscow CTE Teacher, Renae Baffis, brought this challenge to me.  She has worked out a partnership with Grittman Hospital and LCSC to offer the CNA course to her Moscow students, but the course costs about $800.  With the update in this legislation, her students will be able to sign up for the course, get a certificate and go to work or go on to higher education.  This is a win/win/win for Grittman Hospital who needs more CNAs, for Moscow’s Students, to get a certificate, and for LCSC to offer the course, where a student may come back for more training!  The bill was introduced and will have a public hearing next Tuesday in committee.

A fun bill I have been working on since before the beginning of the Session is just about ready to present to the State Affairs Committee.  The bill is the culmination of 7 years of work by the County Surveyors in Latah, Clearwater, Shoshone, Benewah, Bonner, and Kootenai.  Before Statehood, the boundary lines of these 6 counties were described from a “point” at the mouth of the North Fork of the Clearwater River.  The point which apparently was either a tree or a rock has disappeared over time and legal descriptions have starting points near or close to the mouth, but all over the map.  Surveys in the area have been messed up for years.  John Elsbury, Latah County Surveyor, has taken the lead on this matter and has worked with every county surveyor, all the County Commissioners in all 6 counties, along with Potlatch Deltic, the largest private landowner in the area, the Forest Service, the BLM, and Bennett Lumber to make sure everyone is on the same page.  All Counties have signed an ordinance, and we have all necessary documentation to move this forward.  After 7 years of work, I know for sure that Latah County’s, Mr. Elsbury, will be very happy to see this bill move through both Chambers.  We still have a few hurdles to jump over, but I am confident that we can get there.  I have asked ALL of the Legislators from Sandpoint to Moscow, to join with me to co-sponsor the bill as this will be a big win for North Idaho if we can get it to the finish line with the signature of the Governor!  A busy week here in the Capitol, and next week is sure to be the same.  Enjoy your weekend, and please reach out with your comments, questions, and concerns.  I appreciate the opportunity and honor to represent the great people in District 6 and beyond!  Email me at: lmccann@House.Idaho.Gov

In Service,

Lori McCann
Representative District 6A

A few links to check out if you are interested:
Pay raises — Budget writers agreed on bumping salaries for college and university employees.
Charter schools — A bill to overhaul regulations sailed through the House.
Private school tax credits — A much-anticipated bill to subsidize private school tuition made its first appearance Tuesday.
Vaccines — A new bill would require school districts to take an extra step informing parents that “mandatory” vaccines are “not mandatory.”