Public comment period begins for Medicaid expansion restrictions. Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare has announced the start of a 30-day public comment period on the most controversial restriction Idaho’s legislature placed on voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

Idaho residents may now submit comments on the so-called “Work Requirement” restriction until Sept. 22, 2019. Residents may send comments to the Department via email. They will also have a chance to comment publicly at two open hearings:

--Tuesday, Sept. 3, Lincoln Auditorium in the Idaho State Capital Building, 700 W. Jefferson St., Boise @ 1:00-3:00 pm.

--Friday, Sept. 6, East Conference Room in the Joe R. Williams Building, 700 W. State St., Boise @ 1:00pm-3:00 pm.

“This restriction to healthcare has nothing to do with whether Idahoans are working or not. It’s whether they fill out paperwork correctly. We’ve seen thousands of people in other states lose coverage because of this and Idaho is under the same threat,” said Luke Mayville, Co-Founder of Reclaim Idaho. “This reckless legislation will not only deny thousands of people healthcare they already qualify for, it will cost Idaho taxpayers millions of dollars to administer.”

Similar paperwork schemes have been tried in Kentucky, Arkansas and New Hampshire. A federal judge struck down the laws in all three states. In each case, the judge noted that government officials ignored overwhelming opposition to the restrictions.

“A lot of Idahoans think that sending in a comment won’t make a difference, but this is one of those cases where a federal judge has ruled just the opposite. Not only do public comments matter, the government, by law, is required to consider them,” said Rebecca Schroeder, Executive Director of Reclaim Idaho.

In November 2018, Idaho voters approved a “clean” Medicaid Expansion program with no restrictions with 61-percent of the vote. The measure (Proposition 2) passed in 35 of Idaho’s 44 counties and 29 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. This is the second round of restrictions subject to public comment. Earlier this year, Idahoans weighed in on a restriction designed to steer people earning between 100-138-percent of the Federal Poverty Level onto costly private insurance even though they qualified for Medicaid Expansion. That restriction is currently under federal review.

Governor comments on court decision in transgender inmate’s gender reassignment surgery case. Gov. Brad Little issued the following statement in response to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s ruling that the State of Idaho must provide gender reassignment surgery to transgender inmate Adree Edmo.

“The court’s decision is extremely disappointing. The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals. I intend to appeal this decision to the U.S Supreme Court. We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.”

Idahoans create group to oppose campaign to legalize marijuana. Community leaders, business owners and organizations from all across Idaho are standing up to protect the state’s way of life and keep current drug laws intact. The group has formed Idahoans for Healthy Kids and Communities in order to stand firm against a proposed 2020 ballot initiative to legalize “medical” marijuana promoted by the Idaho Cannabis Coalition.

“We stand in strong opposition to any effort to normalize drug use in our state,” said Tim Allen, Idaho Kids and Communities’ spokesperson. “Legalizing marijuana in any form will have profound impacts on Idaho’s future. The organizations behind this initiative want you to believe it won’t change the fabric of our communities, but the experience of other states proves otherwise. We encourage every voter to research this particular initiative and the impact it will have on our quality of life before signing any petition that would officially put marijuana legalization on the ballot.”

Idahoans for Healthy Kids and Communities is a growing statewide coalition of Idahoans who believe that their fellow Idahoans deserve to know the following: 1) what the initiative actually says, 2) what the initiative will do if passed, 3) the identity and intentions of major organizations/individuals behind the initiative, and 4) the negative impacts this proposed law will have on Idaho kids and communities. Individuals who want to know more, or get involved in the campaign, can obtain additional information here: https://ihkc.org

Governor hires field directors for state-wide outreach. Gov. Brad Little has hired two full-time field directors to enhance communication and outreach efforts between the Office of the Governor and Idahoans. 

Jake Garringer will serve as field director in northern Idaho. Emma Johnson will serve as field director in eastern Idaho.

“I created these positions to make my office more accessible at all times across the state,” Little said. “Jake and Emma will attend regional meetings, assist constituents, and keep the pulse on local issues.”

Garringer is a former program coordinator for CDA 2030, Inc. He received his undergraduate degree from Lewis University and a Master of Science from University College London. Johnson is a former government affairs intern at Boise-based Veritas Advisors, LLP. She received her undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University Idaho.

“By meeting people where they live, we can form better working relationships to tackle Idaho’s issues,” Little said. “A regional presence in the northern and eastern parts of the state ensures our children and grandchildren have the best opportunities to stay in Idaho.”

Idaho Broadband Task Force announces meeting.  The Idaho Broadband Task Force will meet Wednesday, August 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PST. The meeting will be held at the Coeur d'Alene Resort (115 S 2nd St, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814).

Gov.Little issued an executive order to establish the Idaho Broadband Task Force to make recommendations on policies and actions the state should consider to improve connectivity and broadband infrastructure across Idaho. To review the full Idaho Broadband Task Force executive order, click hereClick here for the complete meeting agenda. All task force meetings are open to the public. To learn more about broadband in Idaho, visit the Idaho Commerce webpage

Public events on Gov. Little’s calendar this week

TUESDAY, August 27, 2019. Governor Little will host Capital for a Day in Grace from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gem Valley Performing Arts Center, located at 704 S. Main Street.

WEDNESDAY, August 28, 2019. Governor Little will speak at the Idaho Grower Shippers Association Annual Convention at the Sun Valley Resort at 11:30 a.m.

FRIDAY, August 30, 2019. Governor Little will attend the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic at Ann Morrison Park in Boise at 6:45 a.m.