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Courage is Grace Under Pressure

- Ernest Hemingway

Women's Healthcare Rights

Here we go again. A pair of bills that would erode the reproductive rights of women were up for consideration this week. HB 516 requires physicians to provide any women considering an abortion a list of providers offering free ultrasound services, purportedly as a means of helping a woman make an informed decision about her pregnancy. Yet the bill doesn't identify qualifications for the service provider. This is particularly alarming since anyone could theoretically buy an ultrasound machine, pay a small fee, and set up shop. Professionals caution that certain vaginal ultrasounds can cause considerable fetal damage in the early weeks of the pregnancy. At best, this legislation is incomplete; at worst, it could be life threatening. The bill is now headed to the governor's office.

 

SB 1404 is fraught with contradictory and, in some cases, inflammatory language. I find the title of the bill, The Idaho Unborn Infants Dignity Act, troublesome. The legislation makes it illegal to harvest fetal tissue for any purpose, including experimentation. It allows that fetal tissue may be donated in cases, other than abortion, with informed consent. Further, the legislation dictates that the woman or her representative must be informed of her right to receive and handle final disposition of the fetal remains. My take on these two pieces of legislation is that they represent the latest in a long litany of bills crafted to get between a woman and her right to make private medical decisions with her family and her physician.

Right to Try

The 'Right to Try' bill has passed both houses and is on its way to the governor's desk. HB 481 allows a patient with a terminal diagnosis - a patient who has exhausted all available measures - to work with his/her doctors and drug or device manufacturers to try investigational treatments. These are treatments, which have passed the FDA's safety testing phase but are not fully approved, that may save his or her life. This legislation gives a patient and their families a precious gift, the Right to Try. More than 1 million Americans die from a terminal illness each year and this bill will offer some a chance at life. I was proud to serve as the floor sponsor on the Senate floor. Sincere thanks to my colleague Representative Melissa Wintrow (D19) for her leadership on this important legislation. I was proud to carry the bill on the Senate floor. It's a good bill!

Healthy Idaho

Senator Dan Schmidt courageously used a strategic legislative maneuver to call for SB 1205 (Healthy Idaho) to be brought out of the Senate Health and Welfare committee to the floor for action. The committee has refused to allow a vote on the legislation. Sen. Schmidt powerfully restated the importance of taking care of the people's business which he demonstrated by this action. Unfortunately, his motion failed on a party-line vote. There is some whispering around the capitol that indicates the House will be brining another piece of legislation to address the 78,000 Idahoans outside the arc of health care protection. Sen. Schmidt again demonstrated his commitment to the people of Idaho by giving up his taxpayer-funded health insurance out of sense of fairness.

Rape Kits

HB 528, which assures the timely testing of sexual assault evidence kits, has now passed both houses unanimously and has been sent to the governor for final action. Sponsored by Rep. Melissa Wintrow, the bill's purpose is to ensure that medical clinics collect forensic evidence after suspected sexual assaults and that the evidence is promptly sent to a laboratory for DNA testing. This is big win for women in Idaho and for the sake of justice.

Concealed Weapons Carry

Another year, another gun bill. This week, the Senate passed SB 1389, a bill that allows an Idahoan to carry concealed weapons within city limits without obtaining a permit or training. This legislation follows the legalization of permitless concealed-carry in rural areas, and years earlier, a bill allowing weapons on our college campuses. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I voted in opposition to the bill. Awaiting action in the House.

Real ID

Progress has been made on state compliance with the federal government's Real ID program. A decade after the passage of strict federal security requirements related to driver's licenses, Idaho is set to finally move into compliance with the passage of HB 513. This means that Idahoans can continue to board flights using their Idaho driver's license. Without the legislation, that right would have expired in 2018. While the bill is currently awaiting minor amendments, I expect it will reach the governor's desk in a matter of days.

Celebrating Women's History Month

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of hosting an event at the Capitol this week in honor of Women's History Month. Current and former women legislators joined women from organizations across the state as well as private citizens in celebration. We gathered in Statuary Hall on the fourth floor of the State Capitol, surrounded by a fantastic women's history exhibition curated by the Idaho Historical Society under the direction of Michelle Wallace.

The event provided an opportunity to honor the proud legacy of the women of Idaho. We took the time to acknowledge their involvement, contributions, sacrifices, and leadership. An additional focus was sharing opportunities for women's participation on the state's many boards and commissions. Ann Beebe, Special Assistant to Governor Otter, joined us, shared information and invited all to get involved. Great fun to be in the company of so many accomplished, engaged women.

Senate Page: Logan Snow

I'm delighted to introduce Logan Snell who serves as a Senate Page in this, the second half of the 2016 Legislative Session. A senior at Boise High School (my alma mater), with a passion for politics, it was my pleasure to sponsor him for the page program. Logan tells me he enjoys every day at the Capitol, particularly acquiring a vast breath of knowledge about education policy by attending Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee meetings. Following graduation, he is headed to the University of Idaho and plans on majoring in political science. I have no doubt that we will be hearing more from this talented young man in the very near future. Best of luck to you Logan and thank for your great work.

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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Boise, ID 83707

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