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The measure of a country's greatness is its

ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.

Thurgood Marshall

Update: Women's Rights Under Attack

Unfortunately, both of the bills relating to women's productive rights, HB 516 and SB 1349, advanced this week, from the House State Affairs and Senate State Affairs Committees respectively. HB 516 seeks to compel a woman to obtain an ultrasound from a designated provider prior to having an abortion. SB1349 seeks to dictate handling of fetal tissue. I am disappointed that these pieces of legislation will be moving forward as it produces no tangible health benefits for women, and only infringes on their constitutional rights. I will continue to oppose the bills and work toward their defeat in the Senate.

 

Proposed Change to Senate Veto Process

A proposed change to the veto process (SJR 101) cleared the Senate unanimously this week. It aims to amend the Idaho Constitution to permit legislators to reconvene after the end of the session on bills that the Governor has vetoed. In accordance with the State Constitution, a two-thirds vote of both houses would still be necessary to override a veto. Currently, only the Governor is allowed to call the Legislature into special session. I encourage you to follow this legislation through the House, particularly since voters statewide will be asked to approve it should it pass.

Senate Passes Oil/Gas Bill

After two hours of debate, the Senate passed SB 1339, legislation aimed at reducing wait times for the approval of oil/gas drilling permits in Idaho. The bill places the permitting process under the Department of Lands instead of the Oil and Gas Commission, and would significantly shorten a process that currently takes up to a year under the current rules. Most constituents I heard from were strongly opposed to the measure, with many citing infringement of private property rights and environmental degradation as their primary concerns. I voted against the bill which now heads to the House.

Problematic Charter School Bill Advances

On Monday the Senate voted in favor of SB1248, which removes the mandate that charter school teachers use form contracts approved by the Superintendent of Public instruction, so that those who are interested can, in order to adapt their contracts.

There are a number of reasons I opposed this bill. First, this bill undermines the stability and consistency sought in the adoption of the Career Ladder legislation that was put in place last session. I fear the legislation will serve to destabilize employment relationships and further erode the ability to recruit highly skilled teachers.

Additionally, the Idaho School Board Association who represents 44 charter schools, stands in opposition to SB1248. It is important to note that the charter school members on the Idaho School Board Association's Governmental Affairs Committee were most vocal in their opposition to the legislation.

Teachers in charter schools are also public school teachers. Teachers in traditional public and public charter schools are entitled to the same contractual opportunities. I feel that to take away the rights and privileges of some would be a great disservice. Additionally, implementing this bill would increase the difficulty for charter schools to retain skilled teachers, putting them at a significant disadvantage. I would hate to take action that would further restrict available positions for highly-skilled teachers and compel the search for employment elsewhere.

Women's History Month

Senate Concurrent Resolution 147 passed the Senate on Thursday by unanimous vote of the body. The resolution designates March 2016 as Women's History Month in Idaho and recognizes the profound economic, cultural and social contributions of women, past and present. The resolution will now move to the House for consideration. I feel confident it will receive a positive response.

While this resolution acknowledges the historical significance of Women's History Month in general, it specifically honors the proud legacy of the women of Idaho. Women constitute 52% of Idaho's population and play a critical role in every area of endeavor. They have been essential to the development of this great state and continue to toil tirelessly in support of all that is Idaho. Even so, their contributions have been largely omitted from the history books.

Women have proven their talents, skills, abilities and leadership, serving their families, holding elected office, serving on boards and commissions, and working in the private and public sectors. The state of Idaho and her citizens are greatly served when women participate in the public arena and in leadership positions to the fullest extent of their capabilities. It is my hope that this resolution will serve to encourage women to continue to do what we do best, make a difference!

Thanks to a collaboration with the Idaho State Historical Society and the Dept. of Administration, I invite you to learn more about the unique contributions of Idaho women by visiting a wonderful new exhibit at the Idaho State Capitol.

What: Artifacts of Idaho Women's History

When: February 27th - April 3rd

Where: State Capitol, 4th Floor Statuary Hall

I hope to see you soon!

Upcoming Townhall Forum

You are cordially invited to meet with my District 19 colleagues, Representatives Mat Erpelding and Melissa Wintrow and me for our next town hall meeting. We will be taking your questions and sharing our perspectives on the issues confronting the State Legislature. I would love to welcome you to the conversation. I hope you will join us:

March 2, 2016 at 7 PM

Quail Hollow Golf Course Club House

4520 36th St, Boise, ID 83703

As always, it is both a pleasure and an honor to represent you in the Idaho State Senate. Let's stay connected.

 

Your Senator,

Cherie Buckner-Webb

District 19

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