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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.

Legislation I'm Bringing
On Monday I successfully introduced an RS for Ban the Box legislation in the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee. This legislation will remove barriers to employment for individuals with criminal records. Additionally, it will increase opportunity and reduce recidivism through employment. The committee voted to print the bill, and it will have a hearing soon. You can read more about the bill here.

I introduced Living Organ Donor legislation this week. Under this Act, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying or limiting disability, life insurance, and long-term care insurance to living donors, and from charging them higher premiums based on their status as a living donor. The bill will receive a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee on Tuesday. Stay tuned.

As a proud member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), I am proud to sponsor a resolution to proclaim March, 2018 as Social Worker Recognition Month. Some 5,000 social workers in the state of Idaho work diligently to positively impact the lives of Idahoans daily. They are an invaluable resource to communities across the state. I hope all citizens will join with the NASW in acknowledgment, celebration, and support of the social work profession.

Tobacco 21
The Senate State Affairs Committee heard testimony this Wednesday regarding a proposal to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. While the committee is united in a desire to reduce tobacco use among young people, members expressed concerns with this bill. Some noted the incongruity of considering young people of 18 old enough to serve in the military but not old enough to make their own decisions about smoking. Additionally, some were concerned that one outcome of the stringent penalties for possession and use in this bill would be that more young people become involved with the criminal justice system. Strong arguments were made on both sides of the issue. Ultimately the vote was to hold this bill in committee.

Office Of Performance Evaluation Report on Children in Protective Custody
The study conducted in response to my request for a robust assessment on children in protective custody confirmed the concerns of many. Though a cadre of folks, including program staff, public defenders, judges, attorneys, volunteers, social workers and more, are engaged in the foster care system, gaps in representation occur and the state does not have a way to ensure that all children and youth are being served and protected. Some children don't have a court-appointed guardian ad litem. The state does not have a system to track who is or isn't being served. The state also does not have a designated party identified to coordinate the work of those charged with putting the interests and needs of these children first. Consistency and stability are the state's biggest challenges in providing effective representation to children and youth.

I wrote a letter requesting a study by the Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) regarding these issues, which you can read here. Their report included the following recommendations:

"Recognize all types of representation: volunteer guardians ad litem, program staff serving as guardians ad litem, public defenders as legal counsel, and a combination of legal counsel and guardian ad litem.
"Expand support and require training for public defenders working child protection cases.
"Identify an entity that can provide stability and consistency for the organizations providing representation services for children and youth."

You can read the full OPE report here.

Free AARP Tax-Aide Services
The AARP Foundation is once again providing free, IRS certified, tax preparation assistance for all beginning February 1 through April 16. This service is volunteer-run and, although the program is geared especially for low- to moderate-income taxpayers 50 and older, it is available to all District 19 residents regardless of age or AARP membership. Find more information, including dates, times, and locations, by calling (208) 855-4038 or online here.

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