Little launches effort to improve broadband infrastructure. Gov. Brad Little has signed an executive order establishing the Idaho Broadband Task Force to improve connectivity and broadband infrastructure across Idaho.

“In a data-driven society, connectivity is imperative for a vital economy,” Little said. “Improved broadband infrastructure ensures both urban and rural Idaho will be connected and well-positioned to attract business and enhance our citizens’ quality of life.”

Little directed the task force to come up with recommendations by November on ways the state can assist in furthering Idaho’s connectivity and speeds. Idaho Department of Commerce Director Tom Kealey will chair the task force. The group will focus its efforts on mapping Idaho’s existing services and identifying gaps in Idaho’s broadband infrastructure. The mapping effort is the first step in developing a statewide broadband plan.

“For Idahoans to continue to realize commercial growth and better lives, they must have access to reliable broadband infrastructure and service,” Kealey said. “The Idaho Broadband Task Force intends to directly address connectivity gaps and low-speed service and provide recommendations to the Governor that will allow Idaho citizens, businesses and communities to continue on a trajectory of success.”

The task force plans to meet four times before October and provide a final report to the Governor in November.

The task force is made up of government officials, internet providers, satellite providers, cellular providers, industry representatives, universities, and representatives from the tribes, counties, and cities. In addition, the task force includes Representatives Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett) and Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) as well as Senators Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) and Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville).

“It’s appropriate that I represent rural Idaho and my colleague, Rep. Erpelding, represents a more urban area.” Sen. Stennett said. “We must ensure that all areas of Idaho have the tools to succeed in an increasingly digital marketplace. In the past, rural Idaho has not always had adequate broadband access. I am excited to work with the broadband task force to give rural Idahoans the broadband tools they need to be competitive and cyber secure.”

Executive Order 2019-07 can be found at this link: https://gov.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/74/2019/05/eo-2019-07.pdf

IGEM Council announces May 2019 meeting. The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) Council will meet Friday, May 31, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. MST, in the Sawtooth Conference room at Idaho Commerce, 700 West State Street, Boise, 83702.

Idaho Commerce manages the IGEM Grant Program which includes $950,000 in appropriated funds by the Idaho State Legislature. IGEM funds research between university and industry partners geared toward commercialization initiatives. The IGEM Council’s fiscal stewardship and strategic direction advances the program's overall goal of economic prosperity through investments in technological advancements and innovation.   

During this meeting, the IGEM Council will review two applications for funding consideration. Click here for the complete meeting agenda. This IGEM meeting is open to the public. There will be an opportunity for public comments toward the end of the meeting. To learn more about IGEM, visit https://igem.idaho.gov.

Little seeks applications for two openings on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Derick Atterbury of Idaho Falls represents the Upper Snake Region. Dan Blanco of Moscow represents the Clearwater Region. Atterbury and Blanco’s terms are set to expire at the end of June.

“I want to thank Derick and Dan for their service to Idaho through their involvement on the Fish and Game Commission, and I appreciate Derick’s leadership as chairman over the past year,” Little said. “Candidates seeking to apply for these open positions must consider the time, energy and gravity of these roles in managing Idaho’s wildlife and natural resources for current and future generations.”

Atterbury and Blanco are eligible for reappointment. Applications can be found at https://gov.idaho.gov/appointments/. Applicants may submit applications toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5 p.m. MST on June 14.

Little makes appointments to fill vacancies on the Idaho Board of Correction, the Idaho Transportation Board and for Legislative District 21 Seat B. Dr. Karen Neill is appointed to the Idaho Board of Correction. Neill is a professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Graduate Studies in Nursing at Idaho State University. Neill served on the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole from June of 2017 until April 2019.

Bill Moad has been selected to chair the Idaho Transportation Board. Moad is a former fleet operations manager at Simplot Co. and a past president of the Idaho Trucking Association. Moad’s appointment will take effect in July.

“I took great care in filling these important positions,” Little said. “I have the utmost confidence in the leadership and discretion Karen and Bill will provide in these vital roles.”

Megan Kiska is appointed to the Idaho House of Representatives District 21 Seat B. Kiska works as the Inspector General and Real Property Officer for the 124th Fighter Wing in the Idaho Air National Guard. She is a graduate of California State University, Hayward.

“Megan’s history of leadership and service with the Idaho Air National Guard makes her the ideal candidate to replace Rep. Dayley,” Governor Little said. “I look forward to working with her in the Legislature.”

Kiska’a appointment comes after the seat was vacated by Rep. Thomas Dayley, R-Boise, earlier this year. Dayley was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as state director of the Farm Service Agency.

Legislators submit petition to Ada County Prosecutor’s Office to drop hemp charges. Rep. Ilana Rubel/(D-Boise) and Rep. Dorothy Moon/(R-Stanley) submitted a petition to the Ada County Prosecutor’s office with over 12,000 signatures. The petition, originally posted to social media by Tracy Olson, calls on Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts to drop all charges against Andrew D’Addario, Erich Eisenhart, and Denis Palamarchuk, three truck drivers who were arrested and charged for driving industrial hemp across Idaho. Hemp has been legalized at the federal level and is legal in nearly every other state. 

“These truck drivers are not a danger to our state.” Rubel said. “Idaho is on the brink of committing a serious injustice. These men should not face prison time and a felony criminal record for doing their jobs. They did not come to Idaho with the intent to cause harm or create trouble, and we strongly urge the prosecutor to drop charges. It is difficult to think of a worse way to spend taxpayer dollars than by prosecuting and imprisoning these gentlemen who were trying to make an honest living transporting harmless agricultural products.” 

Rubel and Moon co-sponsored legislation that would have legalized hemp and reformed mandatory minimum sentencing laws. However, because the Legislature failed to pass either of these bills, transporting hemp loads is still treated as “drug trafficking,” and judges have no power to avoid harsh mandatory prison sentences for such offenses. 

“Dropping these charges is a bipartisan issue.” Moon said. “These individuals will have a criminal record for the rest of their lives for doing what any working person in their position would have done.  They are truck drivers, not lawyers, and they should not have their lives ruined for not doing the legal research to discover that Idaho’s laws are out of step with the rest of America. Idaho’s archaic hemp laws are depriving our farmers of opportunity, they are punishing people for honest work, and they are wasting our tax dollars. The Legislature will hopefully fix the law next year, but in the meantime, the Ada County Prosecutor should show better judgment and drop these charges immediately.”

Gov, Brad Little’s public schedule

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2019 

Governor Little will give the opening remarks at the National Laboratories Information Technology 2019 Summit at the Boise Centre at 8 a.m.

THURSDAY, May 30, 2019

Governor Little will host the Bonners Ferry Capital for a Day at the Boundary County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.