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"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.

Organ Donor
I am planning to introduce a bill, the Living Donor Protection Act, which seeks to eliminate healthcare discrimination against living individuals who donate organs. Currently, living organ donors experience higher premiums or denial of insurance coverage based solely on their organ donation. I do not believe that people should be penalized for the selfless, life-saving act of donating an organ. Under this bill, insurance companies would be prohibited from denying or limiting disability, life insurance, and long-term care insurance to living donors, and from charging them higher premiums. It's the right thing to do.

Breastfeeding
Another bill I am co-sponsoring would afford nursing mothers the opportunity to attend to the needs of their children in public. My colleagues and I have been working on this for several years, and we're excited to have a bipartisan piece of legislation that will make a difference for Idaho families.

Medicaid
Senate Minority Caucus Chair, Senator Maryanne Jordan, D-17, will present a bill to expand Medicaid. The Legislature is considering a number of healthcare proposals this session, and Sen. Jordan believes that any other healthcare proposal ought to be juxtaposed against Medicaid expansion. I agree. Expanding Medicaid would be more efficient, and beneficial to more Idahoans, than many of the proposals before the Legislature. Options matter. Stay tuned.

Respectful Workplace Committee
On Thursday, Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-5, and I convened the first meeting of the committee tasked with drafting the Legislature's new Respectful Workplace Policy. The committee is representative of individuals who work in the Capitol in a variety of roles. Good policy is a result of diverse voices at the table, and we hope to create an exemplary policy for Idaho. There's going to be a quick turn-around on the work of this committee: we have a goal of recommending a well thought-out policy by the end of the legislative session.

Rep. Nilsson Troy and I sat down with Melissa Davlin at Idaho Public Television to discuss the work of this important committee. See the interview here. Our segment begins at 01:38 and ends at 21:30.

State of the Judiciary
On Wednesday, Chief Justice Roger S. Burdick of the Idaho Supreme Court delivered this year's State of the Judiciary speech in the Senate chambers. In his remarks he noted that the face of Idaho's judiciary is changing rapidly, as an unprecedented number of judicial vacancies have arisen in the last couple of years. This fluctuation, combined with fiscal pressures and the rapid increase in Idaho's population, have left judiciary resources quite strained. Even as we find ourselves in need of additional judges, we lack the physical facilities to accommodate more. There is neither adequate space in the existing courthouses nor adequate buildings to meet the state's needs. Further, a number of Idaho courthouses are not accessible for individuals with disabilities. These problems need to be addressed; as Chief Justice Burdick noted, cooperation between the three branches of government is essential to a robust judiciary.

Tax Conformity Kerfuffle
The House passed a routine tax conformity bill this week, but not without intrigue. The measure aligns Idaho's tax code with federal code, thus simplifying tax filing for Idaho taxpayers. Republican opponents of the bill argued that conforming to federal tax law would be at odds with Idaho's Constitution by recognizing same-sex marriage. House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-19, responded that, if the argument against conformity is based on the Constitution, the obvious solution is to eliminate Idaho's same-sex marriage ban. "If you want to argue that it's about the Constitution," Rep. Erpelding said, "then do it, but don't hide behind the Constitution to be discriminatory." The conformity bill was ultimately passed and now comes to the Senate for our vote.

Boise State Public Policy Survey
The non-partisan Boise State Public Policy Survey was released last week. The survey, based on a sample of 1,000 adults and representative of all geographic regions within the state, allows lawmakers entree to what Idahoans are thinking about important policy topics.

The results of the survey indicate that most Idahoans (62.6%) believe our current tax rate is "about right;" and, if there is to be a change regarding taxes, would prefer to eliminate Idaho's sales tax on food rather than reduce the state income tax (59%). Additionally, most Idahoans think the state budget should either stay the same or be increased, with 8.3% saying it should be decreased. These findings are in direct opposition to the Governor's proposal to of keep the grocery tax and cut income tax. You can review the full results from the BSU Public Policy Survey here.

District 19 Town Halls
Thank you to those who joined us at our first Town Hall of the year on Wednesday, January 24! It was wonderful to hear from our constituents.

Join me and Representatives Mat Erpelding and Melissa Wintrow at future Town Hall meetings!

  • January 31st: Shadow Hills Elementary School at 7:00 pm
  • February 7th: Hidden Springs Clubhouse at 7:00 pm
  • February 15th: location and time to be announced

Here to Serve You
My goal is to address the immediate needs of District 19 while working strategically toward long term solutions. It is my honor to serve you in the Idaho State Senate. Know that your letters, emails, texts, and calls are invaluable. I appreciate hearing what is most important to you and your family.

You can reach me at (208) 332-1339 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Cherie

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

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Phone: 208-861-5482