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"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Dears Friends and Neighbors,

Events at the Capitol
On Saturday, folks from across the Treasure Valley gathered on the Capitol steps to celebrate how far women's rights have come and to recognize and celebrate the importance of human rights past, present, and future. The fourth year of the Women's March focused on women's support for and involvement in the biggest issues of our generation, including things like climate, reproductive justice and immigrants' rights. I was proud to join numerous speakers at the event, including Representatives Rubel and Necochea, as well as 6th grade students Alyssa, Chloe, and Jasmine, and Palin.

11 year old Palin speaks at the Women's March 2020

Governor Little issued his annual proclamation to declare January 20th, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Idaho Human Rights Day in Idaho. Boise State University President Dr. Marlene Tromp was the keynote speaker. She gave an empowering speech on Dr. King's impact in our state and across the nation. "I have seen so many people engage in extraordinary acts of service and care for one another. In this, we could be a model for the world," said Dr. Tromp. It is important this year and every year that we honor Dr. King and continue to use his teachings to inspire generations and help change the world.

Dr. Marlene Tromp speaks at the Capitol to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb on KTVB

The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights and the Home of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial came to share information about their new human rights certificate, the first of its kind in the nation. Wells Fargo Bank Regional President Don Melendez and I spoke to the value of diversity and inclusion in business, which gives us a competitive advantage in the workplace, in the marketplace and in our neighborhoods. For $35 and 6 hours of education, an individual or business will be formally recognized to have a specific skill set that focuses on human dignity and human rights that can be implemented in the workplace. Earning this certification is an opportunity for Idahoans to learn about the core values of diversity, inclusion, ethics, respect, and civility. This certification will help us stop for a moment and look at where we're going, and then move forward appropriately and purposefully. For more information and registration, click here.

Funding Public Programs
I am concerned that the Governor's mandate is creating a fiscal crisis where none exists, and is using this as a justification for under-funding public programs that provide necessary and important services to our citizens. Idahoans are optimistic about our state's strong economy, and want to see their tax dollars being put towards programs that improve their lives. This time of fiscal growth should be when we invest in badly needed programs such as post-secondary education and certification to provide Idaho with a strong workforce that will improve our economy in the long-haul.

Education
All four of the Idaho 4-year university presidents presented to the Education Committees an update on each institution. They delivered a message of unity from the presidents, in which they established their shared vision of working together to service Idaho. In order to best serve their students, they must work not out of competition, but out of vision of collaboration. They will do so by identifying shared values that will create the outcomes everyone wants to see. These values include the efficiency and effectiveness of our secondary education institutions. We must invest to improve not only the value of the degree, but the time it takes our students to attain that degree.

While this unified approach was reassuring to hear from the presidents, the legislature must ensure that we fund education adequately. The schools must find a way to overcome a tuition freeze, 1% hold back of this year's budget, 2% permanent cut, no line items, and a 50% reduction in occupancy costs (maintenance and operation of buildings). It is imperative that we invest in education to improve the state's go-on rate, full-fill our workforce needs, and ensure a successful future for our students.

Senator Buckner-Webb with Idaho Education Association
members who visited the Capitol for conversations about working together for students and teachers.

Change in Employee Compensation
This year, Governor Little recommended to the Change in Employment Compensation committee a 2% merit raise for state employees and a 3% upward shift in the pay scale. The committee voted last week to accept the Governor's recommendation, but to add an additional 2% raise across the board for people in hard to fill positions, such as informational technology specialists, tax auditors, nurses, and more. This will ensure that Idaho will attract and retain qualified applicants by funding competitive salary and benefit packages. These targeted raises will also save the state money by reducing what we spend on overtime and outside contracting.

Families First Act
I am excited to share with you Governor Little's executive order that establishes eight weeks of guaranteed paid leave for eligible employees of Idaho's executive branch agencies following a birth or adoption of a child. Under current federal law state employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave following birth or adoption, but the leave is only paid if the employee has accrued enough sick and vacation hours to span the leave period. This executive order will help ensure that parents and children can spend valuable and important time together without having to worry about their income or using accrued sick or vacation hours. This executive order is a step in the right direction for the working families in Idaho. Let's continue to work towards ensuring paid parental leave for every Idaho worker.

Science Standards
The House Education Committee held a hearing on state science standards in schools. Of the 25 people who spoke, 15 supported the current Idaho science standards and 10 opposed them. Those who opposed them called them political and doubted the place of climate change in the science classroom. The House Education Committee has yet to vote on the standards and the Senate Education Committee will hold a similar hearing soon. I support the science standards.

Idaho Prisoners to be Moved to Colorado
Evidence of the State's need for prison reform can be seen in our own communities. The Idaho Department of Corrections met with CoreCivic, a private prison contractor in eastern Colorado. If the contract proceeds as expected, around 1,200 Idaho inmates could be moved to Colorado within months to alleviate prison and jail overcrowding which continues to escalate with our rising population and increase in the number of prisoners. This move is advantageous in that the state of Colorado regulates prisons, where Texas does not. In addition to state regulation, Idaho will have contract monitors at least monthly to ensure that standards agreed to in the contract are met. This contract will be an improvement over the current emergency contract that brought our inmates to Texas. While this is a good step in the right direction, and reducing overcrowding is important in order to keep our jails and prisons safe, shuttling inmates out of state is not a sustainable solution. Clearly, changes must come from the Idaho Legislature to bring about changes in our criminal justice system and solve problems.

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
Representative Melissa Wintrow introduced the Equal Rights for Women Amendment, which would amend the state Constitution to guarantee equal rights for all Idahoans regardless of sex. In 1972, when the ERA was introduced nationally, Idaho was the 5th state to ratify the amendment before rescinding it in 1979. When the ERA failed to be adopted at the national level, Idaho has yet to take action to afford these protections at the state level. Representative Wintrow's amendment would protect against injustices such as inequitable salaries based on gender, and much more. She has been a tireless advocate in pursuit of women's equal rights.

State Seal of Idaho,
designed by Emma Edwards Green.

Women's Day in Idaho
A representative from the Idaho State Historical Society presented a Concurrent Resolution to the State Affairs committee that would establish March 14th as a day of recognition for Idaho Women. On March 14th, 1891, Emma Edwards Green's design of the Idaho State Seal was approved by the Idaho Legislature and Governor Norman B. Willey. It is the only state seal in the nation to be designed by a woman. This date in March, which is Women's History Month, recognizes a celebration of women's contributions to society, culture, and to history.

On Friday we welcomed refugees from Tanzania and the
Congo when the International Rescue Committee visited the Capitol.

Here to Serve You
I am excited to work this session towards both the immediate needs of District 19 as well as establishing long term solutions. It is my honor to serve you in the Idaho State Senate. Please know that your letters, texts, emails, and calls are invaluable to me as I represent you here. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and knowing what is most important to you and your family.

Feel free to contact 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