We had our fifth Capitol Clarity meeting on Thursday, which included presentations from State Controller Brandon Wolf, Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg), and Sen. Christy Zito (R-Hammett).
State Controller Wolf spoke about the Idaho transparency website, which Idahoans can use to learn about state spending. The website also includes data about the CARES Act funding Idaho has received. Thank you to Controller Wolf for coming to our meeting and for his ongoing efforts to increase transparency in Idaho. His next project is to improve the transparency of local government and school district expenditures across the state.
Rep. Nate spoke about his efforts to secure the repeal of the grocery sales tax in Idaho. His draft legislation would use the federal SNAP definition of food to avoid putting any additional regulatory burdens on businesses. We live in one of just a handful of states that still charges full sales taxes on these basic staple goods.
Rep. Zito spoke about the Firearms Protection Act, which would protect Idahoans' Second Amendment rights and make it clear that state and local law enforcement are not required to enforce federal gun control laws.
This week, I spoke at the Idaho's Best 100 Award Ceremony. I wish to recognize and congratulate all the nominees at the event, which recognizes the hard work of Idaho's small business employers, who are the backbone of Idaho's economy. Thank you for your efforts to keep Idaho strong. You play a critical role in our state!
Did you know that more than 99% of Idaho businesses are small businesses, and they employ more than 56% of Idaho employees? With numbers like these, it should be clear to all just how essential Idaho small businesses really are to our state and our economy.
On the subject of small businesses, it is important to remember that attending a university isn't the only path to business success in Idaho. In recent years, we have seen college attendance leveling off nationwide. While attendance rates increased between 2000 and 2010, no similar increase was seen between 2010 and 2018. At the same time, we have seen an increase in the number of young people pursuing CTE, apprenticeships, and other non-college training opportunities.
In a recent examination of high school graduates in Nampa, for example, nearly half as many of the graduates left school with an industry certification as went straight to college.
Senate Bill 1039 will allow Idaho highschoolers to graduate with a "workforce ready diploma" if a student has successfully passed a technical skills assessment, successfully passed the workplace readiness assessment, and demonstrated competency of career technical education program standards.
The state board of education will be meeting next week, and I will be encouraging them to recognize certifications of less than one year and apprenticeships as forms of continuing education that contribute to our "go on" rate. If you would like them to consider these metrics, please let them know at email@example.com.
Covid-19 Vaccine Project
The Biden administration is touting a plan to operate up to 100 federally run vaccination centers across the country, with the largest of them handling up to 6,000 people per day. Although specific locations have not yet been revealed, these sites would be operated by FEMA and utilize the National Guard for day-to-day operations support.
Some states are already pushing back against this idea, however, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis saying of the idea, "I can tell you, that's not necessary in Florida." He added, "The more bureaucracy that's involved in this, the worse it's going to be. Trust me."
What do you think, should Idaho invite FEMA to run a vaccination center in our state or should we follow Florida's lead and opt for a more independent approach?
The Idaho House unanimously passed HCR 3 supporting the naming of a new Virginia Class nuclear attack submarine as the USS Idaho, the "Gem of the Fleet." Construction of the submarine began in 2020. It will be the first vessel to carry the Idaho name since a battleship commissioned in 1919 that saw service in WWII.
The vessel will include some personalized elements that are Idaho-centric. These could include plaques featuring past Idaho Medal of Honor winners, gems and other materials from Idaho, and possibly inlaid text on tables regarding Idaho history.
The resolution has not yet received a hearing in the Idaho Senate.