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In Honor of Women's History Month:

To the wrongs that need resistance,

To the right that needs assistance,

To the future in the distance,

Give yourselves.

- Carrie Chapman Catt (Suffragette)

School Board Elections

The Senate Education Committee stopped two bills that sought to negatively impact school board elections this week. The first, SB 1307, would change the school board election date from May of odd years, to the November general election in even years. The bill conflicts with efforts that were made in the 2011 session to consolidate elections. Several elections coincide with the current school board election cycle including: hospital boards, highway districts, library districts, and auditorium districts. Moving the school board elections to November would likely result in a decrease in an already-low voter turnout. The second bill, SB 1308, would change the board election process by requiring trustees to live in the zones they represent, while permitting voters across the district to vote for all trustees. The bill would require school board candidates to campaign across an entire school district, resulting in considerable cost to those running for an unpaid trustee position. I voted against both bills.


Right to Try

The 'Right to Try' bill (HB 481) has cleared the House on Monday and now moves to the Senate. The purpose of this bill is to give patients with a terminal diagnosis, the right to try an investigatory drug that has completed basic safety testing through the FDA. The goal is to reduce wait times, bureaucracy, and most importantly, potentially saving lives. The legislation releases physicians, hospitals, insurers, and any other of person from liability. Further, the legislation enables patients to work directly with manufacturers (with the recommendation of a physician) to try an investigatory medication. Twenty-four other states have passed "Right to Try" legislation over the past two years. Representative Melissa Winthrow (D19), the bill's leading sponsor, presented HB 481 in the House, and I will present it on the Senate floor.

Suicide Prevention Funding

The Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee (JFAC) has approved funding to expand Idaho's suicide prevention program. Though funding for the programs was not included in the Governor's budget, JFAC, the community, legislators, and advocates did an outstanding and successful job of bringing the issue to the forefront. The need is great. Idaho ranks ninth in the nation for suicide rate. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among Idahoans ages 15-34. JFAC has allocated $971,100 towards suicide prevention in the state. Outstanding!


By a wide margin, the Idaho State Senate voted down SB 1276. Supported by the Idaho Sheriff's Association, the legislation would have added to the list of offenses making ex-felons ineligible to own firearms: terrorism, arson, extortion, human trafficking, rioting, hijacking, racketeering, and supplying firearms to a criminal gang. Very disappointing.

However -- there is hope on the horizon -- a replacement bill has recently been introduced (SB 1383). More limited than the previous bill, it adds fewer felonies to the firearm restoration statute. Perhaps this legislation will present a workable compromise.

Sexual Assault Bill Squeaks By

The Senate narrowly passed SB 1277. The legislation updates Idaho statute regarding rape and sexual assault. Presently, Idaho law does not treat a situation where an adult victim is unwillingly fondled or groped as a sex crime, but rather as simple battery (a misdemeanor). In an effort to rectify that situation, this legislation creates a new statute and allows for significantly harsher punishments. First-time offenders can receive up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine and repeat offenders are charged with a felony, face up to 5 years in prison, receive a $10,000 fine, and are required to register as a sex offender. The bill also eliminates the "resistance requirement" from current Idaho State law. This means that victims of rape will not be jeopardized legally if they do not offer resistance, providing they have a well-founded belief that resistance would be futile, or the cause for further force or violence. A chilling tally: fifteen senators voted against the legislation.

Two New Mental Health Crisis Centers Receive Funding

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee approved funding for two new mental health crisis centers on a 16-2 vote on Wednesday. The result of this approval is that Regions 4 and 5, the Boise area and Magic Valley, respectively, have been approved for new mental health crisis centers. The thinking is that the Allumbaugh House in Boise would be a logical choice for a new crisis center, particularly since the location is already a functioning detox facility. Regardless of where it is eventually located though, this is good news. In exchange for dramatically increasing access to mental health services, the cities and counties will be responsible for contributing only 50% of the cost for running the facility in the long-term. Moreover, much of this investment would not be made through new dollars, but rather by means or projected savings of reduced hospital costs and jailing expenses.

Medical School Planned for Meridian

Governor Otter held a press conference this week to announce that there is a new medical school planned for Meridian, which will be operated in affiliation with Idaho State University. Developed as a public-private partnership, the school will be called the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and will be a for-profit institution. A large investment for the project will come from a private entity based in New Mexico called the Burrell Group, which will limit the out-of-pocket expense facing the state of Idaho. Organizers of the project envision the college launching in 2018. Stay tuned.

2016 Bethine & Frank Church Gala

I had the pleasure of attending the Idaho Democratic Party's Bethine & Frank Church Gala last weekend. It was a renewing, inspiring, fun evening. There was great conversation, lots of fun, and I was honored to deliver the invocation for the evening. The highlight of the event was a keynote address presented by Jennifer Granholm, the former Governor of Michigan. Her speech was informative, humorous, encouraging, and uplifting. We walked away from the evening revived, reinvigorated and proud Democrats - celebrating our unique strengths, diversity, openness, and collaboration.

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 16, 2016 at 7 PM

Shadow Hills Elementary Gym

8301 W Sloan St, Garden City, ID 83714

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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Cherie Buckner-Webb
Senate D-19 Campaign
P.O. Box 9813
Boise, ID 83707

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