Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bannock County Democrats Central Committee meeting & caucus training on Tuesday, January 26th

Are you interested in participating in the political process during this important presidential election year? To find out how to vote for your preferred nominee and how to run for state and national convention delegate, come and learn about the caucus process and volunteering opportunities with the Bannock County Democrats at our Central Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 26, from 7 p.m. to about 8:15 p.m.

This event will be held at our headquarters, located at 355 Yellowstone Ave. (across from Mama Inez restaurant), with entrances at the front and back of the building and parking in back.

We will offer an in-depth review of the Bannock County Democratic Caucus, detailing the delegate election process. This is a fantastic opportunity for Bannock County residents to get involved in selecting the next president of the United States and we look forward to seeing you there!

All Precinct Captains are reminded to attend and all county Democrats are encouraged to come and participate too. For more information on this caucus preparation workshop and the Bannock County Democratic Caucus (on March 22), please contact us at bannockdemocrats@gmail.com or (208) 234-8909, and look for us on Facebook.



Saturday, January 16, 2016

Week Zero in the Capitol for the 2016 Session



roylacey
Roy Lacey Office Address
District 29 State Capitol
Committees: P.O. Box 83720
Finance Boise, Idaho 83720-0081
Transportation (208) 332-1406
Resources & Environment rlacey@senate.idaho.gov

The session hasn't even officially started and there is already so much occurring as there is a push to have our assigned time in Boise as limited as possible due to the primary elections that are scheduled to occur in May.

My main reason for being in Boise early is to listen to all the experts that are presenting to the Economic Outlook & Revenue Assessment Committee. This is an annual assignment as this committee recommends what income figure is anticipated so the Joint Finance & Appropriations Committee can balance the budget. The experts come from State government, Universities, tax experts and private business and each predicts what the next year may bring. It is an interesting process as people put their own spin on the economy. I have learned a new word when discussing the economy and that is "tepid". This term was used over and over in the presentations. I think it means that next year will be very close to this year. Overall the projections have all been positive so after two days of listening to economists we can probably estimate continued growth in the 5-6% range.

The other early committee, which I am not a part of, is the Employee Compensation committee which has met and heard testimony and very soon we will learn of their results. Hopefully we can improve the compensation for our State employees as they are currently being paid below market value. This causes a high rate of turnover and the best tend to leave. Keep our fingers crossed.

The Governor and Leadership have made a few announcements that will affect some of the work we will perform this session. Taken off the table is any consideration of a Pre-K program and also the threatened review of Planned Parenthood which has been pushed by a very few.

A couple of items that will be coming down the pike will be compliance with the Real ID requirements to Idahoans can fly with a State identification (drivers license) and there are already rumblings about some water issues, particularly if we do not get an above normal snowpack this winter. 

 One of the major announcements yesterday was the Governor outlining a "state-financed" medical program for the people in the "GAP". People who make too much money for Medicaid and not enough to sign up for the insurance exchange. The easy fix would be to expand or redesign Medicaid as permitted under the Affordable Care Act which would mostly be paid by the Federal Government and the hospitals. However, Idaho does not like to do things the easy way. So instead of spending about $3 million in the next few years, the Idaho plan is to use taxpayer money in the tune of $30 million per year to have the "GAP" individuals have access to some treatment by health care facilities such as Health West in Eastern Idaho. However, the $38 or so per person cost will only be for access to these facilities and will not cover things such as major medical, operations, mental health and other serious conditions or even pharmaceuticals. It is simply a small band-aid on a huge wound. The crowning point of this announcement is that it would not be a tax increase, rather a revenue shift. The goal is to take the cigarette tax money the State receives ($33 million) to pay for this, however, this money has already been allocated to the schools, highways, and other entities which lessens the amount of general fund money that is necessary. General fund money is our taxes. This small Band-Aid is simply election year politics at a very large expense. It is a top-down mandate and if all 78,000 people sign up, our medical system will be overloaded and care could not be given. Furthermore, the Counties and State will still be responsible for the major illnesses and surgeries under the indigent programs. 

I'm happy to be back and working. Thank each of you for giving me this opportunity to represent you. I take it seriously.

2016: Week One at the Legislature

elainesmith
Elaine Smith Office Address
District 29 State Capitol
Committees: P.O. Box 83720
Business Boise, Idaho 83720-0081
Environment, Energy, & Technology (208) 332-1039
State Affairs esmith@house.idaho.gov

Greetings from Boise,

Week 1 of the Idaho Legislature is ending.  However, I came early because I am a House member on the Joint Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment committee which meets before the session.  I was conservative on my predictions this year because of the downturn of agriculture prices.  Idaho is the number two state in agriculture, so I look at how that influences other parts of our economy.  This committee on January 14th accepted the Governor’s recommendation of 4.1% growth for the rest of 2016 fiscal year and his recommendation of 4.9% growth for FY2017.  I sincerely hope the economy continues to grow.

On Jan. 15th the Joint Finance & Appropriations Committee did transfer almost $29 million (actually $28,892,700.00) from the Catastrophic Health Care Fund back to the General Fund.  Part of the reason the Cat Funds did not use all the money appropriated is due to the number of citizens getting health insurance on the Idaho Health Exchange.

In the House State Affairs committee we have had 2 RS in a print hearing, with one being returned to sponsor and one being printed.  House bill 331 pertains to powdered alcohol which has been banned in 24 other states.  The Idaho Liquor division also wants to ban it.

All House and Senate committees will be reviewing Rules of state agencies the next two to three weeks.  For instance in Environment, Energy & Technology committee where I am a member, we will be reviewing as a committee of the whole water quality, air quality , and waste management rules from DEQ.

This week I was interviewed by Channel 8 and 3 when they were present for the State of State address.  Also, I was interviewed by Boise Weekly newspaper and a radio reporter from BYU-Idaho.  I had never been interviewed before by those last two media outlets.

This week all Idaho legislators had 4 hours of training on Civil Discourse by the National Institute for Civil Discourse of the University of Arizona.  This Institute was founded in 2011 after the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.  We broke into four groups for easier discussions by defining current state of civility in the Legislature, identifying barriers, and creating action steps.

To contact any legislator you can call toll free at 1-800-626-0471 or the internet site is www.legislature.idaho.gov.  My office number in Boise is 208/332-1031 or home number of 237-1462 with my legislative e-mail of esmith@house.idaho.gov  Thank you to all from Bannock County who have already contacted me on issues.  Thank you for allowing me to serve representing District 29.

Elaine Smith
District 29 Representative