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2014 End of Session

The 2014 Idaho State Legislature’s session has concluded. During this session we addressed over 550 pieces of legislation in a 80 day long legislative session which is much shorter than the previous several years. This year’s short session enabled the legislature to save time and resources for the taxpayers of Idaho, who continue to struggle with the slow, yet continual improvements in the economy. The realities of these condition s have been on my mind as I worked on the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) to ensure the taxes of Idahoans are distributed in an efficient and effective manner. This year the state again balanced its budget, at $2,936,008,400, with the majority of these funds going toward education ($1.78 billion), health and human services ($680.9 million), and public safety ($307.9 million). I believe this amount of funding will provide the basic, needed services while providing a boost to the educational community and acting as a check against the growth of state government.

Another long term effort was made toward economic stability by increasing our state savings accounts in the amount of $36 million while giving state employees a 2% raise in their salaries. A new goal of 10% in our Budget Stabilization Fund was set in order to prepare for future unknowns.

Education continues to be a major issue. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, I continue to support legislation that improves the lives of students in Idaho and help them prepare to actively participate in the workforce upon completion of their education. The Governor’s Educational Task Force reported their findings and suggestions to the legislature. Increasing the funding of education significantly in nearly all sectors, including an increase of K-12 education by 5.1% was a step in the right direction. We requested funds to be placed in the Public Education Stabilization Fund in the amount of $10 million and Higher Education Stabilization $2 million. There was also a privacy of student information bill and the creation of a test review committee made up of stakeholders from the public and educational stakeholders to make our new assessments Idaho specific.

Serving on the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee, I participated this year in a dramatic change in the approach Idaho takes concerning the reform of our criminal justice system. These changes should improve treatment, supervision, parole, and probation processes, especially for nonviolent offenders. We also reviewed the public defender system to ensure it adequately serves the public.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare told the legislature that this is the first year since the recent recession that there has been a declined in number of participants in medicaid. This decline made it possible for the legislature to once again provide adult recipients of medicaid with preventable dental services. The department continues to work with the legislature to find ways to care for the disabled and impoverished while trying to prevent abuses of public funds.

Here are some other issues we addressed this year that you may find interesting:

1. Senate Bill 1332-This legislation will protect second amendment rights by penalizing local authorities who confiscate guns under orders from the Federal Government.
2. Senate Bill 1314-This bill places restrictions on payday loan lenders and the amount of interest they can charge their customers.
3. House Bill 479-This bill appropriates $15 million to improve the infrastructure of Idaho’s water resources.
4. House Bill 378-This bill designates the historical date Idaho was signed into law as a territory by Abraham Lincoln as Idaho Day. March 04th, 2015 will be the first observation of this holiday.
5. House Bill 452- This bill establishes a public defender commission.
6. Senate Bill 1357-This bill reorganizes the criminal justice system.

For a more detailed summary on the legislation considered and passed this year please go to the “sine die” report on the Idaho State Legislature page: On this website you will also find details about all past legislative sessions and budget information.

We may not agree on every piece of legislation that was considered and passed this year, but you need to know that I consider all opinions and input from my constituents. I appreciate all of the emails, phone calls, and letters received throughout the session. Your input helps me understand the issues and how they impact us. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve District 30. If there are concerns or questions you have about this session please contact me. You can also keep in touch with me by email at Thank you again for your support.

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