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There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.
-Michelle Obama

Gerrymandering
A large number of constituents have expressed their concern about SJR 105, legislation related to partisan gerrymandering. I share those concerns. SJR 105, a draft of which has still not been made publicly available, will undermine the state's current, bipartisan redistricting process.

The original resolution calling for Section 2, Article iii of the Idaho State Constitution passed in the first legislature of 1993 with a vote of 26-9-0 in the Senate and 50-17-3 in the House. This amendment required only a simple majority vote of approval from Idaho voters to pass; it succeeded with a resounding 64% vote in the 1994 general election. The will of the public could not have been clearer.

The current process governing our Independent Redistricting Commission works. It is fair, transparent, allows for public input and scrutiny by the Idaho Supreme Court, and provides specific guidelines for the conduct of commissioners. This process is not broken, and the legislation that is coming before us now is a solution in search of a problem. Worse, it feels like a group of elected officials seeking to hand-pick their voters and eliminate their political rivals. Voters from both parties and independents from across the state are emphatically opposed to this proposal.

Idaho Opportunity Scholarship
A follow up on last week's newsletter: Idaho Opportunity Scholarship expansion bill, which would provide scholarship funding for "adult completers" to complete their educations, passed out of the Senate Education Committee. This week, the measure passed the full Senate on a vote of 25-10. It now goes to the House. Good news.

CBD Oil
In last week's newsletter I discussed House bill 577, legislation sponsored by Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-8, to legalize the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil containing 0.3 percent or less of THC under the direction of a licensed practitioner. Last week the bill was approved by the House Health and Welfare Committee, and this week it passed the full House on a vote of 59-11. I am a strong supporter and co-sponsor of this legislation, and am pleased that the bill has been transmitted to the Senate.

Living Organ Donor Bill Passed the Senate
The living organ donor legislation which I am sponsoring passed the Senate this week and is now headed to the House. This bill would prohibit discrimination against living organ donors in life insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care insurance policies. It has been referred to the House Business Committee. Stay tuned for updates.

12 Months of Birth Control
S1281, the bill that would have required health providers to make available a 12-month supply of contraceptives under certain health care benefit plans, was defeated this week in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee. There was some confusion with the initial vote on Tuesday, as the committee voted on the wrong motion on a 5-4 vote by mistake. When the error was noticed, it was scheduled for a second vote on Thursday. While I hoped that I might be able to persuade some of the committee members to change their position before the second vote, the motion to hold the bill in committee passed on Thursday. Gone for this session, but I'm committed to bring the legislation back next year. Many thanks to the legion of folks who supported this legislation.

Social Workers Visit
On Monday and Tuesday 300 members of the National Association of Social Workers from across the state were at the Capitol for Advocacy Days. Sessions included discussions of important topics including minimum mandatory sentencing, sexual harassment prevention, suicide prevention, and meetings with legislators. I had the privilege of addressing the group on Monday on the topic of "Social Workers as Leaders". Kudos to those dedicated individuals making a powerful difference in Idaho communities.

Ban the Box Bill Delay
There has been a great deal of interest from both stakeholders and the public regarding S1307, the Ban the Box bill. This important piece of legislation aims to remove barriers to employment for individuals with criminal convictions. The goal is to increase opportunity, reduce recidivism and enable those with criminal history to become self-sufficient contributors through employment. I strongly believe that this legislation is right for the people of Idaho.

In order to address concerns and to collaborate with interested parties to improve the legislation, I'm pulling it back until next session. I will be working on an updated version to develop a win-win bill that will provide individuals with criminal histories a fair shot while simultaneously benefiting employers. The result will be a bill that is better, stronger, and thoroughly vetted. Have suggestions? I welcome your input. Please send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., with "Ban the Box" in the subject line.

Tax Bill
House bill 463, this year's income tax legislation, passed on a vote of 26-9 in the Senate on Thursday. Members of the Democratic caucus fought hard against the bill. This "tax cut" measure will actually raise taxes on single parents and on families with 3 or more children. To add insult to injury, the child credit in the bill is wholly inadequate and is only applicable until the child reaches the age of 17. This legislation will reduce revenues for schools, infrastructure, and workforce development.

This bill was pushed through based on the argument that the federal tax cuts enacted in late 2017 make these changes necessary. However, as my colleague Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-16, has noted, the impacts of this year's tax bill look very similar to those projected based on income tax bills that the House has considered in previous years; the lion's share of tax "relief" goes to the top 1%, not to average Idahoans. Conversely, families with children will realize a reduction in revenue - there is no win in this bill for them! The following two charts, put together by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, demonstrate the impact of this tax bill on Idaho families.

HB 463 will give more than 71% of it's tax cuts to the top 1%

The bill simultaneously gives more than 71% of tax cuts to the top 1% and increases taxes on families with children

Both bodies of the Legislature have passed House bill 463, and it now goes to the Governor's desk. Those who are opposed should contact his office at (208) 334-2100 or www.gov.idaho.gov to make their voices heard.

Education
Idaho's population is growing rapidly. Our schools have seen 17,000 new students in the last five years while simultaneously dealing with a 400-person teacher shortage. Additionally, 15% of our first-year teachers do not return for a second year, which causes problems for both students and school districts alike. Rep. Sally Toone, D-26, brought forward rural teacher loan forgiveness legislation to incentivize recruitment and retention of badly needed educators. Regrettably, the House Education Committee voted to send the bill to amending orders, sidetracking the progression of the legislation.

Opportunity for Idaho

The following is a message from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (IDLCC):

Every Idahoan should have the opportunity to prosper. Hardworking Idahoans value stability and should be able to work at good paying jobs that can support a family. We are committed to a vision that puts today's Idahoans and generations of Idahoans to come on a path to success. To that end, we offer Idaho's Opportunity Roadmap - an outline of our principals and legislative goals to help every Idahoan prosper - especially our next generation. We hope you'll join us in working to achieve these goals. Learn more at http://www.opportunity4idaho.org/.

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