Committees: Justice & Rules (Vice Chair), Agriculture, Local Government & Taxes
Proud of: That year, after moving to the Idaho Senate, I ran seven bills, and I co-sponsored seven more bills that also made it into law. The Idaho Wrongful Conviction Act was my highlight. It offers compensation for someone who is genuinely innocent and yet has been jailed against their will. This bill was rejected last year, but I worked out the minor differences with the governor and unanimously supported it this time. It is wrong to put an innocent person in jail and doubly wrong not to give compensation when exonerated. This bill fixes that.
Disappointed of: At first, I was most disappointed when the governor vetoed the two emergency power bills and the Senate did not override the veto. However, at the end of the session, we were able to pass similar bills to adjust the Emergency and Extreme Emergency sections of the Idaho Code. The original laws were introduced during the Cold War and many parts were obsolete. Any responsible legislator would have made changes similar to those in H391, H392, H393 and S1217. Kudos to the House and Senate leadership for their great success in carrying these bills.
Plans for the meantime: School Safety – Check with our local school districts for safety measures and the state school safety department. Now is the time to see what additional security improvements schools need.
I am a member of the Interim Committee on Broadband Internet and we will be working on developing broadband guidelines and recommendations. Idaho is underserved for internet speeds and overwhelmed for what we get.
I am also a member of the Interim Property Tax Committee. I helped pass H389 in the Senate for property tax relief, but more work needs to be done to balance the effects of taxes with rising home values.
Committees: Commerce & Personnel; Local government; Income and Taxes
Proud of: As the legislature pulls back and I reflect on the work done during the longest session in our state’s history, I am pleased with our performance. We have worked hard to restore the balance of power between the executive and legislature, lower property and income taxes, and fund education, transportation, health care and other vital services.
As a first-time legislator, I am often asked, “What do you think of the legislature?” My answer is: “I am impressed by the talent, knowledge and commitment of all who serve our great state.” There are educators, lawyers, doctors, corporations, ranchers, and farmers working side by side for the betterment of Idaho. Obviously we have disagreements. There have been heated debates and we can vote differently. But when all is said and done we have laws that are well scrutinized.
Disappointed of: (None listed)
Plans for the meantime: As I look forward to the next meeting, I will advocate laws that will help keep local decisions at the local level. Too many times I’ve seen lawmakers propose ideas that take power away from local leaders. We have very competent mayors, councilors, district officers, and school council members elected to represent and lead their local communities. The role of the legislature is to support, encourage and provide guidance.
We live in one of the largest states in the nation. I remain committed to conservative values and freedoms, and I am honored to represent District 34 at the Statehouse.
Committees: Appropriations; Justice, Rules & Administration; Local government
Proud of: Public funds should never be used to promote hatred and racism. Governor Little Signing House Bill H377 is a huge win for Idaho as it bans the promotion of social justice programming and the advocacy of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in our schools and universities. CRT, rooted in Marxist thought, is a harmful way of looking at the world. It demands that everything in society be viewed through the lens of racism, sexism and power. CRT tries to make children feel bad because of their skin color, gender, or some other category – one group is considered the harmed minority while another group is the oppressive majority. The legislative success of H377 is just the beginning of removing CRT cancer from universities and preventing it from spreading in our K-12 education. Now it is the turn of the law to enforce the new law and ensure that not a single penny of public money is used to promote these Marxist ideologies.
I worked personally with Senator Doug Ricks to pass a bill to ensure that school bond and levy elections are presented in a way that gives voters the clearest possible information on the actual cost of the bonds and levies on their tax bills. The invoice also provides for a remedy (declaration of invalidity) if a school authority violates the disclosure requirements. The bill was H66 and was signed last Wednesday. I also worked with Senator Christy Zito to pass her Bill S1043, which protects student privacy when school boards are considering suspension or expulsion decisions. Such decisions can now be discussed privately and the results can also be communicated privately to parents and students. This avoids embarrassing and potentially illegal board meetings where students were publicly shamed for personal mistakes.
Disappointed of: Idaho is long overdue to end the food sales tax. Our state is one of only five states that are fully taxed on food, and we have the third highest tax in the country. The food tax repeal bill was stopped in the chairman’s drawer by Rep. Steve Harris (and at the direction of the housekeeper). The law was passed by both chambers in 2017, but was rejected by Governor Otter. At that 2021 meeting, Governor Little said he would sign the bill, but now House leaders are in the way.
Plans for the meantime: I will be working again on the food tax abolition as well as major reform to lower or eliminate property taxes by finding another way to fund local governments, counties, and building plans. We have the resources, and Idaheans are very concerned that property taxes are rising all the time. We can and should do better because no one should ever be taxed out of their homes.
In addition, we must ensure that all Idahoers have medical freedom, including the freedom not to be vaccinated and to be mask-free if they so choose. Nobody should have to show papers or a “vaccination certificate” to work, shop or travel. We need to protect our constitutional rights.