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STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS:

Monday, January 10th, kicked off the 2nd Regular Session of the 66th Idaho Legislature. As is tradition, the first day included the State of the State address by the Governor.

With the help of a federally inflated surplus, the Governor delivered a whopping wish list. $1.1 billion for education, $1 billion for tax relief, (without even a mention of a possible repeal of the grocery tax) $400 million in transportation, and $50 million in behavioral health resources. Added to the wish list without much detail is a grant program for parents, and a public safety program called Operation Esto Perpetua.

Governor Little is quick to acknowledge Idaho's low unemployment rate, touting it as a measurement of success. But the 2.9 unemployment rate is a far cry from the reality we face in our communities. We know the struggle our small businesses face with increased staff shortages due to a lack of willing workers. The actual unemployment rate nears double digits while we continue to fund a myriad of government support programs enabling people to simply stop working. Make no mistake, this lack of self determination and work ethic is a detriment to our state.

The Governor also continues to remind us that he has not mandated masks or vaccines. But the lack of a mandate does not stop others from doing so. While Governor Little welcomed what he called pandemic heroes; nurses, doctors, police officers, guardsmen, and teachers, many of those heroes today have their careers and livelihoods at risk because of mandates he has failed to prevent.

The Idaho National Guard is currently under pressure from a Department of Defense vaccine mandate. While Governor Little's office has denounced mandates, it is being left to a group of pro bono private attorneys to fight them for our Guardsmen. As Commander in Chief, it is within the Governor's purview to stop the egregious dishonorable discharges happening under these mandates. Unfortunately, that is not happening. Protecting our Guardsmen and their families should be a top priority and I implore our Governor to do so.

2022 finds Idaho in a two-year perpetual state of emergency. This does not seem prudent nor necessary. The ARPA funds that have flooded our state were voted against by our congressional delegation, yet Idaho's current leadership willingly accepted those funds, leaving us with a growing list of federal obligations and a false sense of prosperity. ARPA funds leave a legacy of debt to our children and the state of emergency needs to end today.

CAPITOL CLARITY:

Capitol Clarity is returning! Every Thursday during the legislative session there will be an in-depth presentation held in the Lincoln Auditorium. Capitol Clarity is a program designed to inform and educate Idaho citizens regarding the workings of the legislature and state government. It is open to everyone and is always a great opportunity to hear from leaders in the community.

The first Capitol Clarity is Thursday, January 13, at noon in Room EW42. (This is one of the few Capitol Clarity workshops that will not be held in the Lincoln Auditorium.) This week the Idaho Freedom Caucus will be presenting their Conservative Agenda.

Please spread the word regarding Capitol Clarity! We hope to see you at the Capitol on Thursday.

COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:

I am privileged to announce that Machele Hamilton of Nampa, Idaho, has joined the staff of the Lieutenant Governor's office for the 2022 Legislative Session. Ms. Hamilton has extensive knowledge regarding the Idaho State Legislature and will be serving as Communications Director. With years of experience regarding legislative staffing issues and constituent concerns, her addition to our staff will be extremely beneficial to the citizens of Idaho. It is an honor for the Lieutenant Governor's office to have someone as skilled and talented as Ms. Hamilton and we welcome her.

Sincerely,

Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin
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