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2010 Session Underway!

Greetings from Boise!

I am writing because I would like to keep in contact with you during the legislative session. We are faced with issues and decisions that can only be enhanced by your involvement.

Renovations on the Capital building are finished! Since the dedication on Saturday, January 9th, the building has been open to showcase its splendor and citizens have been coming to enjoy it. I hope you will take the opportunity to visit. Remember, our legislative process is transparent and accessible to the public whether you come to Boise or stay at home. There is plenty of room to watch all of our committee meetings and floor action, as well as video and audio access online (http://www.idahoptv.org/leglive/) and on Idaho Public Television; web access is also available on www.legislature.idaho- we welcome you!

The legislature officially convened on Monday, January 11th and we are busier than ever. Most of my time is spent serving as the Vice Chair for the Education Committee, a member on the Judiciary and Rules Committee and the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. This week we discussed issues such as the Governor’s budget, deficiency warrants, supplemental budget requests, and new department budget requests. Much of our time has been spent on reviewing department rules as well. Idaho is one of the few states that reviews its rules which can easily take up the majority of our first few weeks of each session. These rules are very important as they help determine how the laws are implemented.

Our revenues are forecast to fall short again this year. Governor Otter has proposed efficiency measures to keep the budget balanced. Cutting education is not what we want to do, but the length and depth of this recession has left us no choice after spending $318 million from reserve accounts and stimulus funds over the past two years to keep our schools whole. As a member of the Finance Committee, I have voiced my concern with new fiscal requests to ensure they are essential. We know we are not dealing with the “government’s money”. This money comes from hard-working individuals, families and businesses who are struggling with their own budget.

We will see more legislation in the upcoming weeks which can be monitored on the web at www.legislature.idaho.gov. I look forward to sharing my legislative priorities with you soon. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any ideas or concerns you may have. It is an honor to serve you and I will do my best to represent your suggestions. If you would like to be added to our contact list please email me at dmortimer@senate.idaho.gov.