This week, we had an excellent presentation from Dr. Ryan Cole, the CEO/Medical Director of Cole Diagnostics, one of the state's major providers of COVID testing. He spoke about how individuals can build and improve their natural immunity and the importance of Vitamin D.
We had a legislative update from several Legislators including Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird), Rep Ron Nate (R-Rexburg), Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls), and Sen. Regina Bayer (R-Meridian.)
Rep. Giddings and Rep. Nate discussed their role on JFAC, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the defeat of House Bill 226, which would have funded social justice indoctrination of young children, and other important issues.
Rep. Ehardt talked about House Bill 249, dealing with sex education in Idaho schools.
As a quick summary, House Bill 249 creates two categories of sex education, the first of which is basic "sex education," defined as "the study of the anatomy and the physiology of human reproduction." The second category is "instruction regarding human sexuality," which is defined as "any presentation, story time, discussion, or reading assignment, other than sex education as specifically and narrowly defined in subsection (1) of this section, that is focused primarily or substantially on human sexuality, encompassing the topics of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, eroticism, sexual pleasure, or sexual intimacy."
Parents have choice regarding both categories, but the first category is opt-out while the second category is opt-in. In other words, the default is that students will be taught what falls within the first category but not what falls within the second. Parents can choose to opt their kids into the second category, so they learn from both or opt them out of the first category so they learn from neither.
Rep. Ehardt described the bill as being about "consent, not content." The bill passed the House 56-12, but it is expected to face more opposition in the Senate.
Sen. Bayer discussed Senate Joint Memorial 103, which expresses the Legislature's opposition to the removal or breaching of the dams on the Columbia-Snake River System and its tributaries.
You can watch the full video of this week's Capitol Clarity at this link.
On Tuesday, JFAC, on a vote of 13-6, chose to kneecap my Office's $184,900 budget request by $19,200 (10.4%) and to eliminate one of our three full-time positions. Keep in mind one of these three positions is the elected Lieutenant Governor and another is my chief of staff. I have used our Office's third FTP on an as-needed basis, employing several young people since I took office. We recently hired a lovely young woman who is already proving to be a tremendous asset to our Office.
Many people may not realize just how conservative the Lt. Governor's Office budget is compared to Idaho's other constitutional officers. For FY 2022, the Governor's Office is requesting a budget of $25.8 million including 1,059 FTPs. The smallest office other than mine is the State Treasurer with a budget request of $1.46 million including 26 FTPs.
Rep. Scott Syme, who made the motion to cut our budget, reached out to my Office two weeks ago, asking if I would support reducing my budget and FTPs. I replied with a detailed letter explaining why such cuts would negatively affect our ability to fulfill the duties of the Office and to effectively engage in constituent services. It is not surprising when liberal Democrats attempt to obstruct elected Republicans and to reduce their ability to serve their constituents, but it is disheartening to witness such actions on the part of a fellow Republican.
JFAC budgets are not final. Perhaps either the House or the Senate will choose to vote down this radical budget reduction and thereby force JFAC to consider restoring the cuts. Specifically targeting the already small budget of Idaho's first female Lt. Governor seems punitive.
March 4th was "Idaho Day," in remembrance of the day President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill creating the Idaho Territory. (The bill was actually passed on March 3rd, but it wasn't signed by the speaker of the House and the presiding officer of the Senate until the early hours of March 4th, so that is when President Lincoln signed it.)
In January of 2014, former State Rep. Linden Bateman proposed legislation to officially recognize the day as "Idaho Day" The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature without opposition, and the Governor signed the bill into law on March 4, 2014.
Rep. Bateman told me that his favorite memory as a state representative was one day when he was walking down Capitol Boulevard in Boise towards the State Capitol with a light snow falling, and a bald eagle flew in front of him.