January 26, 2024
Another busy week at the Capitol ends with several bills moving out of committee that might be of interest to you.
In House Education, we passed HB422, the new Charter Act. This bill helps ensure we keep the best of our Charter Schools by rewarding them with a lengthier certificate if they show good performance and that the Charter has met all requirements under the law. This law will also look deeper into those Charters that are rnot meeting requirements, losing students, and teachers, by having a group of mentors that will go in and work with the Charter School to help them improve, or they will no longer be able to continue. This bill passed out of Committee with only 1 no vote, and the no vote had some very valid questions that will be monitored. This new Act repeals and replaces the old one. The Charter movement started more than 25 years ago in Idaho, and is one of many school-choice options for Idaho families.
Another education bill that went through State Affairs is HB415. This bill makes it legal for Teachers and others to carry a concealed weapon while teaching or working in the school building. I have been receiving so many emails regarding this. Right now, it is over 4:1 against allowing this. I would love to hear from school districts, teachers, school board members/trustees, and parents. I am very conflicted about this bill. The enhanced carry does require some training, but does it train and work with these folks who may have never carried a weapon, to act in a severely stressful situation? Please let me know how you feel about this.
The Fentanyl bill I mentioned in my last message, HB 406, with mandatory minimums made it through the Judicial and Rules Committee with no recommendation to the body. This means they did not overwhelmingly pass the bill and send it with a “due pass recommendation.” The bill is being supported by law enforcement, prosecutors, and others, but is not supported by the judiciary as it takes any discretion away from our judges in sentencing. Fentanyl is such a powerful drug that is killing our people from young to old and this bill is a rewrite from last session. I would like to hear your thoughts.
There has been disagreement this past week in our Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee on the process that is being taken on hearing budgets. Some believe the new process of presenting maintenance budgets first, is not giving a clear picture of what “actually” is a full maintenance budget. Those who like this new process say this will give the Legislature and you, the people, a more transparent view of what is actually in every budget. Leadership in both Chambers are working together to find a solution. Stay tuned. We will see what they work out.
This week I continued my work on finding a solution for our Seed Producers who are having a hard time getting payments on time from some Seed dealers. On Thursday I met with Farm Bureau, the Director and Assistant Director of the Department of Ag., along with other folks who represent these producers and dealers to discuss the problem, and to see what possible solutions we can find. We will continue our discussions over the next couple of weeks and then will decide how we want to proceed. This might be something that will take this session and next before we get the best solution for all.
Next week I will be presenting several of my bills, and a resolution to start discussions about Idaho Students attending the new Veterinarian School at Utah State. We are hoping that the University of Idaho folks can begin talks with Utah State to reserve some seats for Idaho students. With the shortage of Large Vets in our State, and the fact that Idaho does not have a vet school, we want to ensure we have spots for our Idaho students to attend school to become a large vet and come back to Idaho to practice. We have such an agreement with Washington State University for a certain number of Idaho seats, similar to the Medical program, WWAMI.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, and I’ll be back in touch next Friday.
Representative Lori McCann
The U of I Student Government and other students visited the Capitol last week
They helped sponsor a breakfast for Legislators and also helped with a reception at the McClure Center, across the street from the Capitol building.
It was great to see our Vandal Students at work!!! Thanks to you all for visiting and sharing your stories with us.