House GOP leadership continues town hall series. House Republican Leadership and House Republican Caucus members from Districts 20-22 will hold a town hall in Meridian. This comes after people packed a town hall in Twin Falls last month.

“That was a very informative event in the Magic Valley. Talking face-to-face with our constituents is one of the most critical and rewarding parts of our jobs,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke. “We expect another great turnout in Meridian, and another great discussion about how we can better serve the people who make this state go.”

The town hall will be at 6 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Center At The Park (Meridian Senior Center) in Kleiner Park at 1920 North Records Way. The representatives will take written questions, and encourage their constituents and the media to attend.  They also encourage early questions to be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“The greater Meridian area is growing at an incredible rate. That brings challenges and opportunities,” said Caucus Chair Rep. Megan Blanksma. “We are all looking forward to hearing more about those challenges so we can help turn them into opportunities.”

Attending will be  Speaker Scott Bedke, Majority Leader Mike Moyle, Majority Caucus Chair Megan Blanksma, Assistant Majority Leader Jason Monks (Nampa), Rep. Joe Palmer (Meridian), Rep. James Holtzclaw (Meridian), Rep. Steven Harris (Meridian), Rep. Megan Kiska (Boise), Rep. John Vander Woude (Nampa).

Democrats criticize legislation related to Medicaid expansion. The Equitable Assessment of Costs Related to Medicaid Expansion interim committee met recently for the second time. The discussion centered primarily around county indigent and catastrophic funds. Rep. Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett) presented a draft bill that“would rob from already strained county budgets and transfer local taxes to subsidize state coffers. This action would negatively impact both urban and rural counties alike, leaving commissioners with little choice but to cut services or raise property taxes,” said a Democratic press release.

“The Majority is continuing to punish voters for passing Medicaid expansion. First, they schemed to rob voters of their initiative rights by trying to passing Revenge on Voters Act. Then, they added expensive, unnecessary restrictions on Medicaid Expansion. Now, Rep. Blanksma’s proposed bill will cheat the Idaho voter out of a more broad and fair tax base by forcing counties to use already high property taxes. This punishes local leaders like county commissioners and protects irresponsible legislators from accountability.,” said Rep. Mat Erpelding/(D-Boise). “The Majority wants to punish counties and this legislation is divisive; it will create winner and loser counties. Even more concerning are the desperate attempts by GOP lawmakers to hide their fiscal irresponsibility by using local taxes to pay for state responsibilities. This is much like our current education system and our increasing reliance on local property taxes just to keep the lights on. Additionally, Rep. Blanksma wants to establish, by law, a healthcare system controlled by a very small portion of the state. Rural Idahoans will have places like Ada County dictating their healthcare. 

“Voters did not ask for creative math and fuzzy budgeting when they passed Medicaid Expansion. Additionally, they expected the state to use its resources to support Medicaid Expansion because they didn’t want their counties to go bankrupt paying the bill. Rep. Blanksma’s bill flies in the face of what voters have asked us for and I expect citizens from every county in the state to oppose it vigorously.

Reclaim Idaho wraps up statewide town hall tour in Eagle. Reclaim Idaho has been traveling the state on its #IdahoSpeaks Town Hall Series talking about Idaho’s Constitutionally protected ballot initiative rights. More than 400 people and eight state legislators representing six different districts have either participated in or attended Town Halls in BoiseSandpointCoeur d’Alene and Twin Falls. We are expecting several Eastern Idaho legislators at our Idaho Falls Town Hall on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. Senator Mark Harris has already committed to speaking in favor of adding restrictions to our ballot initiative rights. The final stop on the tour will be in Eagle on Thursday, August 15, 2019 @ 6:00pm, Eagle Public Library, 109 N. Stierman Way, Eagle, ID.

Former Idaho State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones will be speaking in Eagle in favor of preserving our initiative rights. All of the District 14 (Eagle-area) legislators (Rep. Gayann Demordaunt, Rep. Mike Moyle, Sen. C. Scott Grow) have been invited. Senator Grow – who championed S1159 which would have virtually repealed the citizen ballot initiative in Idaho – has already declined (we can provide a copy of the email if you want). In their absence, Reclaim Idaho Communications Director Jeremy J. Gugino will present the anti-initiative side of the debate.

Little to kick off first meeting of opioid advisory group. Gov. Brad Little will address his Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Advisory Group at its first meeting on Aug. 15 in Boise. Little established the advisory group by executive order to combat the growing epidemic of opioid and substance misuse in Idaho.

The public meeting is scheduled to run 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. MST at the JR Williams Building, located at 700 W. State Street in Boise, in the West Side conference room.

“The opioid crisis is taking lives and destroying families in Idaho. Idaho is taking a broad, holistic approach to examining this crisis, so we can develop solutions that save lives and create a brighter future for our state,” Little said. “The advisory group will ensure we are investing in the right strategies and programs to make a meaningful difference for our state.”

Agendas, meeting materials, and other information about the advisory group and its work is available on the web site for the Governor’s Office of Drug Policy at this link: https://odp.idaho.gov/governors-opioid-and-substance-use-disorder-advisory-group/

Medicaid Interim Committee considers Medicaid expansion funding. The Equitable Assessment of Costs Related to Medicaid Expansion interim committee met recently for the second time. The discussion centered primarily around county indigent and catastrophic funds. The committee was presented a draft that was intended to put the burden of paying for Medicaid Expansion on counties by making them pay for the entire cost. 

Senator Maryanne Jordan/(D-Boise) and Representative Brooke Green/(D-Boise) are also members of the committee. They were gravely concerned with the proposal. 

“We just don’t know the impacts of Medicaid expansion yet.” Sen. Jordan said. “There is no mechanism to determine how many people will still rely on catastrophic or indigent funds for healthcare. We don’t have any answers on the waivers sent to the federal government. And, we don’t know how much we will save because we haven’t seen Medicaid expansion in action yet. This is not the time to make determinations about how we should react. Instead of waiting for the data, this proposal would kneecap counties in advance. This is a state program and the state needs to wait for the data on how much was saved and where there are still gaps to fill.”

“We are making assumptions based on variables that don’t exist yet.” Rep. Green said. “We shouldn’t already be discussing what the counties will do to fund Medicaid Expansion. We need to see how the waivers play out, evaluate the facts, and make decisions only after we know what variables we are working with. Our property owners are already facing significant increases in their property bills, if we determine that there is a savings at the local level we need to pass that saving to our property owners.  We have to start by identifying diverse funding opportunities using the tools we have at the state level. If we are not committed to exploring our options and assessing the impacts, we will likely make mistakes moving forward.”

Included below is information on some of the public events on Governor Brad Little’s calendar for the week of August 10-17. All times local.

Gov. Brad Little’s public schedule this week

MONDAY, August 12, 2019

Governor Little will speak at the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Red Lion Hotel, located at 1555 Pocatello Creek Road in Pocatello, at 8 a.m.

Governor Little will deliver remarks at the Chobani Innovation and Community Center grand opening, located at 3450 Kimberly Road in Twin Falls, at 11 a.m.

WEDNESDAY, August 14, 2019

Governor Little will attend a ribbon cutting for the newly expanded facilities at Premier Technology, Inc., located at 1858 W. Bridge Road in Blackfoot, at 3:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, August 15, 2019

Governor Little will deliver the opening remarks at the first Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Advisory Group meeting at the JR Williams Building, located at 700 W. State Street in Boise, at 8 a.m.

FRIDAY, August 16, 2019

Governor Little will attend the ribbon cutting at the new JR Simplot Elementary School, located at 820 Tyhee St. in American Falls, at 11 a.m.

SATURDAY, August 17, 2019

Governor Little will attend the Caldwell Night Rodeo at the Caldwell Events Center at 8 p.m.