Silencing The Voters

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The Senate State Affairs Committee (to see the full committee, click the ”Members” tab or see below) will hold a hearing on Monday morning, March 11 on S1159, the bill to upend the citizen initiative process in Idaho. The bill makes it virtually impossible for Idaho’s citizens to exercise our constitutional right to make a law. Retired, former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones penned a guest opinion editorial in the Coeur D’Alene Press saying this bill would “kneecap the initiative and referendum process.” And, as Rep. Sally Toone pointed out in a Facebook post earlier today, those in charge waited until after 5 pm on Friday to post the agenda announcing this hearing. Rep. Toone also noted that this bill is an “attempt to kill our democracy.” Members of this committee need to hear from everyone who cares about our Democracy. Please ask all members to vote against this bill.

If you are able to attend the hearing, please arrive early if you wish to testify. See the attached agenda.

If you can’t get to Boise, just use this easy tool to call AND email all the members of the committee, and include the committee secretary on your emails.

Here is a complete list of Senate State Affairs Committee members with contact information. Secretary information is at the end.

Senator Patti Anne Lodge (R) - Chair
palodge@senate.idaho.gov
District 11
P.O. Box 96, Huston, 83630
Home (208) 459-7158
Statehouse (208) 332-1320 (Session Only)

Senator Brent Hill (R)
bhill@senate.idaho.gov
President Pro Tempore
District 34
1010 S. 2nd East, Rexburg, 83440
Home (208) 356-7495
Statehouse (208) 332-1300 (Session Only)

Senator Chuck Winder (R)
cwinder@senate.idaho.gov
Majority Leader
District 20
5528 N. Ebbetts Avenue, Boise, 83713
Home (208) 853-9090
Statehouse (208) 332-1354 (Session Only)

Senator Steve Vick (R)
sjvick@senate.idaho.gov
Assistant Majority Leader
District 2
2140 E. Hanley Avenue, Dalton Gardens, 83815
Home (208) 332-1345
Statehouse (208) 332-1345 (Session Only)

Senator Kelly Arthur Anthon (R)
kanthon@senate.idaho.gov
Majority Caucus Chair
District 27
725 E. 300 S., Burley, 83318
Home (208) 654-4099
Statehouse (208) 332-1327 (Session Only)

Senator Mary Souza (R)
msouza@senate.idaho.gov
District 4
P.O. Box 2223, Coeur d’Alene, 83816
Home (208) 818-2356
Statehouse (208) 332-1322 (Session Only)

Senator Michelle Stennett (D)
mstennett@senate.idaho.gov
Minority Leader
District 26
P.O. Box 475, Ketchum, 83340
Home (208) 726-8106
Statehouse (208) 332-1353 (Session Only)

Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb (D)
cbucknerwebb@senate.idaho.gov
Assistant Minority Leader
District 19
2304 W. Bella St., Boise, 83702
Home (208) 343-2650
Bus (208) 861-5482
Statehouse (208) 332-1339 (Session Only)

Secretary: Twyla Melton
Email: sstaf@senate.idaho.gov
Phone: 208-332-1326An

Against the People's Will

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This post was updated on March 7, 2019.

The latest on Medicaid Expansion: the bill introduced by Rep. Vander Woude (R-Nampa) places work requirements on those eligible, making it costly to implement. As far as this bill goes, two things stand out: these restrictions will waste taxpayer money by creating both an extra layer of bureaucracy, and another “gap population” of folks who can’t meet the requirements. And that means even more tax dollars wasted when those in that gap head to emergency rooms and we foot the bill through our county indigent funds and state catastrophic fund. It’s a job half done.

Beyond this particular bill, another thing is quite clear as well: the people of Idaho did not vote for work requirements. We overwhelmingly approved a law that expands access to health care through Medicaid. Period. Members of the House Health and Welfare Committee outside our district need to hear from us on this.

And in another effort to undermine our democracy and the people’s will, yesterday, Sen. C. Scott Grow (R-Eagle), brought forth a bill to raise the requirements for Idahoans to qualify a measure to the ballot for a statewide vote. Right now, citizens can put a measure on the ballot by gathering signatures from 6% of the voters in 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts over a period of 18 months. If S 1159 becomes law, it would require a citizens’ initiative to gather enough signatures to represent 10% of the voters from 32 legislative districts. The proposal also calls for changing the timeframe in which signatures are gathered to only 180 days (approximately 6 months). These are HUGE changes that make it very difficult to exercise our right to make laws through the citizens’ initiative process (see the Idaho Constitution, Article III). This bill is simply bad for the democratic process.

Local Control in the 2019 Legislative Session

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A recent poll shows that a large majority of Idahoans support a statewide ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. The poll also revealed that Idahoans think that local governments should be able to enact those restrictions if the state won’t. But, this session, Rep. Chad Christensen (R-Ammon) introduced HB77 to ban local governments from enacting hand-held cell phone bans. The bill would also repeal any existing local ordinances, like the ones in Blaine County, Ketchum, Hailey, and other places in Idaho. The House Transportation and Defense Committee killed the bill in a close 7-8 vote. That is the good news. Another bill to address distracted driving with a statewide ban on using hand-held phones, SB1064, failed narrowly.

HB127 allows counties to opt out entirely of creating comprehensive plans, which would create a great deal of uncertainty about land use patterns and negatively impact local communities’ ability to plan for orderly development. Local government officials from Blaine County, including Commissioner Angenie McCleary and Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns, testified against this bill in a committee hearing last week. The bill moved forward on a very close vote and continues to gain traction. Stay tuned on this one—comprehensive plans are an important tool citizens use to help shape the future of our communities.

Mid-Session Update

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This week the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) began work to set budgets for Fiscal Year 2020. While the governor requested an 8 percent increase in revenue for the state budget, the Economic Outlook Committee had requested a 5.7 percent increase. JFAC voted for a 7 percent increase. At that 7 percent, JFAC will be able to fund programs such as Medicaid Expansion and the governor's Literacy Proficiency program.

Public safety was also a big topic! This week Governor Little signed HB 12 into law, making the opioid-overdose drug available from any licensed or registered health care professionals in the event of an overdose. This new law will save thousands of lives. The Idaho Senate also overwhelmingly passed SB 1028  this week to extend workers' compensation coverage to first responders who suffer from traumatic and serious work-related psychological injuries.

And the senate also worked on legislation regarding Idaho’s liquor licenses that would apply only to sit-down or hotel restaurants. Senator Michelle Stennett has been watching this bill closely in the State Affairs Committee. SB 1040 would get rid of the state's current quota system for issuing liquor licenses based on population and instead delegates power to local cities and governments to issue licenses that could be distributed anywhere in the state. The current system either forces entrepreneurs to wait years for a $750 state-issued liquor license or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a license on the secondary market. Right now, the bill is being held in committee to make some improvements. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Rice (R-Caldwell), plans to add amendments and bring it back to committee next week. Thanks to Michelle Stennett for keeping us in the loop this week on these important developments!

2019 Mid-Session Town Hall Meetings

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We are halfway through the regular session of the 2019 Idaho State Legislature. Senator Michelle Stennett, Representative Sally Toone and Representative Muffy Davis will update you on the latest developments and take your questions on everything from Medicaid Expansion to public school funding, transportation and more.

Learn about how you can get involved, what progress is being made on the issues you care about and what is on the docket for the second half of the session!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Ketchum - Ketchum City Hall, 480 East Street, at 6:00 pm

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Hailey - Blaine County Democrats Office,16 W. Croy Street, at 8:00am
Shoshone - Lincoln County Community Center, 210 Beverly Street, at 10:30 am
Gooding - Zeppe's Restaurant, 215 Main Street, at 12:30 pm 
Hagerman - Hagerman City Hall, 110 W. Main Street, at 3:30 pm

HRJ 2 Undermines Idaho's Democracy

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 The legislature rushed HRJ2 through the Idaho State House’s State Affairs Committee on Friday February 8, 2019. As written, the proposal would ensure the majority party controls the legislative redistricting process.

Currently, our US Congressional and state legislative districts are drawn by an independent, bipartisan Citizen's Redistricting (Reapportionment) Commission which is bound by guidelines defined by state law that Idaho voters approved statewide in 1994. It is a balanced and fair commission with even representation from both parties that requires a two-third majority to approve the districts.

Under the terms of HRJ2, the majority party will choose the seventh member of the Redistricting Commission and it also allows a simple majority to decide the boundaries of the Congressional and state legislative district maps. Bottom line: This bill seeks to consolidate power in one party’s hands and threatens our democratic process.

Building Democratic turn-out at Blinken Event

We had a great evening at last Wednesday's Blinken Event at Ambassador Blinken's Ketchum residence. Our local and candidates ignited enthusiasm for the November election, bringing on cheers and excitement for Idaho's future. There's definitely a force of change in the air!

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