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"Never be limited by other people's limited imagination."
-Dr. Mae Jemison, first Black woman astronaut

Celebrations in the Legislature
Monday was Lincoln Day, which was marked in the Legislature by special programs during the floor sessions of both the Senate and the House. In the Senate we were treated to a musical performance by an orchestra from American Heritage Charter School in Idaho Falls.

On Wednesday we honored Senate pages who have served for the the first six weeks of the legislative session. Sergeant at Arms Sarah Jane McDonald shared brief bios and future plans of each and Senate leadership distributed mementos to these accomplished, motivated students who have served Senators and staff admirably. As a parting gift to the Senate, the pages entertained us with their musical and problem solving (Rubik's Cube) talents. We wish them all great success.

"The future belongs to those who prepare for it today."
Malcolm X

House Committee Vote on Science Education Standards
After hearing a great deal of public testimony, the House Education Committee voted to strip several sections from the state's science education standards. The sections referred to human-driven climate change and renewable energy from the state's science education standards. I have received emails from many, many Idahoans expressing concern about this act of political interference in the classroom. I share those concerns. Idaho students deserve to receive an uncensored education, especially about crucial issues related to our impact on the environment.

Idaho has a long history of responsible gun ownership, a history that I, a life-long Idahoan and state legislator, deeply respect. That said, I am very concerned about HB444 which presents “stand your ground” legislation.

Let’s be clear, stand your ground laws provide individuals a basis to excuse or rationalize the potential wounding or murder of another person. From my vantage point, these laws are extremely dangerous. These laws lay a foundation for an environment characterized by volatile and potentially tragic situations that could be averted by a call to law enforcement or other action rather than use of a deadly weapon.

Be responsible for our actions, and take responsible actions.
Haki Madhubuti, c. 1975

Black History Month
February is Black History Month. Join me in taking some time this month to learn about, celebrate, and honor the struggles, contributions, and accomplishments of Black folks across the world. A few suggestions:

Guion Stewart Bluford Jr., Ph.D., (Col, USAF, Ret.), Born 11/22/1942, aerospace engineer, U.S. Air Force officer and fighter pilot, and NASA astronaut. The first African American in space.

Madame C.J. Walker: Sarah Breedlove (12/ 23/1867 - 05/25/1919), known as Madam C. J. Walker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist, the first Black millionaire in the United States.

"Loss of social standing is an ever-present threat for individuals whose social acceptance is based on behavioral traits rather than unconditional human value."
- Melissa Harris-Perry

Policy Pub Speaker Series
On Monday, I joined Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-18, and Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-5 for a panel discussion hosted by the University of Idaho's McClure Center for Public Policy Research. The theme for the event was "Women in Policy," and it was a pleasure to speak with this bipartisan group of legislators about our backgrounds in public policy, what inspired us to enter the policy arena, and some of the biggest challenges in policy today.

The time is always right to do what is right.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Friends,

We're back in the Legislature working for the people of Idaho.

State of the State Address
Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter presented his final State of the State address on Monday, January 8th.

Of note, the Governor announced a proposal for significant tax cuts for both individuals and corporations. He also indicated he will continue to engage on issues related to education and health care. He did not, however, mention the vital Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is a major concern. Federal funding for this important program expires in March. Without state intervention, many of Idaho's children will be outside the arc of protection for healthcare.

"Knowledge is power!"
- Francis Bacon

Dear Friends,

President Trump's Election Integrity Commission sent a letter to all Secretaries of State requesting an egregious amount of voters' personal information with apurported goal to combat voter fraud. The letter does not explain how the information will be used, what it will be used for, how it will be protected (if at all), or how long the Federal Government will maintain control over the personal information of hundreds of thousands of Idahoans.

Your State Democratic Leadership sent a letter to Idaho's Secretary of State Lawrence Denney requesting that he not comply with the request. To read the letter, click here. Several Democratic Legislators have written letters to the editor in response to the issue, and I shared my concerns in interviews on KBOI. Democratic leadership met with the Sec. Denney on July 18 to discuss the importance of protecting your private information, and left the meeting feeling confident that he would not release information that wasn't already public. The issue is ongoing.

"As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little bit before you think."
- Toni Morrison

The legislative session is out for the year, yet our work as legislators continues. We serve on interim committees and participate on panels to share session outcomes and intentions for future accomplishments.   We also work to empower and enrich our communities in many different ways.  This is particularly pertinent given the recent despicable, racist vandalism committed against the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and quite frankly, our entire community.  Nothing of this speaks to the character of the Idaho I know and love.

End of Session Letter – 2017

Dear Friends and Neighbors of District 19,

It has truly been an honor to serve as the Senate Assistant Minority Leader. Working in partnership with Minority Leader Senator Michelle Stennett and Minority Caucus Chair Senator Maryanne Jordan is a joy. We share a strong sense of purpose, and styles that complement, challenge and support each other and a commitment to lead with purpose, compassion, and humor. I am appreciative for the high degree of collaboration we have established, and maintained with Majority Leadership this session.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
Lao Tzu


The Legislature may be winding down, but I am not. Here are updates of what is happening in the State House.

Victim's Rights-Marsy's Law
The Senate unanimously passed an amendment to an existing clause in Idaho's Constitution regarding the rights of crime victims. SJR 103 will now make its way to the House where it will need 2/3rd support to pass, as well as majority support in the next general election in order to change the Constitution. The change would require victims of crimes receive a "reasonable and timely" prior notification of all legal proceedings, the right to attend those proceedings, the right to confer with prosecutors, as well as "full and timely" restitution for economic losses. Marsy's law was motivated by the tragic death of Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas who was stalked and murdered by her ex -boyfriend while attending University of California Santa Barbara in 1983.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

- Abraham Lincoln


JFAC Approves Emergency Roads Funds
On March 1st, the Joint Financial Appropriations Committee (JFAC) approved $52 million dollars in emergency funds for transportation repairs. The funds will provide repairs for damages which occurred during the abnormally harsh winter this year. The allocation is a onetime emergency fund coming from the state's budget surplus. While the vote in JFAC was unanimous, the appropriation must be approved by the House and Senate and then signed by the governor.

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