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Political news notes: Ed task force . . . New Dem leaders . . . GOP town hall . . . Farm workforce

Final report available from education task force. The 2019 final report is now available from Gov. Brad Little’s “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force that he formed to strengthen K-12 public education in Idaho.

The report and other documents can be found here.

Little directed the broad-based task force to look at Idaho’s K-12 public education system holistically and prioritize where we should invest the next available dollar. The group will outline Idaho’s next five-year blueprint for education investment and reform.

“I want to thank the members of my task force for their commitment to improving opportunities for our students to succeed in their education and in their lives,” Little said. “Their recommendations form the basis of my education budget and policy recommendations for the 2020 legislative session and beyond.”

“After months of hard work and discussion from the 27-member task force, it is great to formally present our final report to the Governor for his consideration,” said Debbie Critchfield, the co-chair of the task force and president of the State Board of Education. “These recommendations reflect the perspectives of experienced and knowledgeable groups from across Idaho – legislators, policymakers, business leaders, and education stakeholders, including local school trustees and the president of the statewide parent-teacher organization.”

Idaho House Democratic Caucus elects leadershipRep. Mat Erpelding resigned from the House on Dec. 6, leaving his position as House Democratic Leader vacant.

On Dec. 10, the Idaho House Democrats held a House leadership election. The leadership is now as follows:

  • Rep. Ilana Rubel, House Democratic Leader
  • Rep. John McCrostie, Assistant House Democratic Leader
  • Rep. Elaine Smith, House Democratic Caucus Chair

“Our diverse backgrounds from different careers, education, and experience make all of us highly qualified to advocate for Idaho values in the legislature,” the new House Democratic Leadership said in a joint statement. “Although we have some difficult fights ahead of us, we are confident that our team is well-equipped to protect the things that Idahoans hold dear: constitutional rights, education, jobs, public lands and integrity in government. 

“The House Democratic Leadership is looking forward to bringing a fresh perspective to the next session. Every session, House Democrats push forward progressive policies that will contribute to Idaho’s success, and we fight legislation that threatens our future prosperity.” 

Republican Caucus brings town hall series to northern Idaho. House Republican leadership and members of the House GOP Caucus from northern Idaho will hold two town halls on Dec. 17. The first will be at Moscow City Hall, 1-3 p.m., 206 E. 3rd St., and the second will be at North Idaho College Student Union Building, Coeur d’Alene Room, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 495 N. College Drive. These will be the last town halls before the 2020 Legislative session begins, and the sixth and seventh in a very successful series.

“It is our privilege to serve the interest of Idahoans in the statehouse, and these town halls allow us to connect one-on-one with people so we can meet that responsibility to its fullest,” said Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, who will be at both events.

The representatives will answer written questions, and then be available to talk to people one-on-one. They 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..

“This is a great opportunity for people to not only have their questions answered, but to also learn more about how their Representatives are already working hard for them,” said Caucus Chair Rep. Megan Blanksma, who will also be attending.

Attending Both Town Halls will be Speaker of the House, Scott Bedke; Majority Leader, Mike Moyle; Majority Caucus Chair, Megan Blanksma; Assistant Majority Leader, Jason Monks.

Attending Coeur d’Alene Town Hall will be Rep. Vito Barbieri, Dalton Gardens; Rep. John Green, Post Falls; Rep. Ron Mendive, Coeur d’Alene; Rep. Tony Wisniewski, Post Falls; Rep. James S. “Jim” Addis, Coeur d’Alene; Rep. Paul Amador, Coeur d’Alene.

Attending Moscow Town Hall will be Rep. Bill Goesling, Moscow; Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, Genesee; Rep. Thyra Stevenson, Nezperce; Rep. Mike Kingsley, Lewiston.

Dairymen praise Simpson & Congressman Fulcher for Farm Workforce Modernization Act. The U. S. House of Representatives recently passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by a vote of 260 to 165. The bill preserves American agriculture’s experienced workforce by allowing our existing farmworkers to earn legal status, without creating amnesty.

“Today we are one step closer to solving the labor crisis facing agriculture in Idaho,” said Rick Naerebout, CEO of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “On behalf of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, I’d like to thank all of Congress for passing this critical legislation. A special thank you to Congressman Mike Simpson for being a co-sponsor and Congressman Russ Fulcher for his support. This is a good conservative approach to fixing our immigration issues and guaranteeing a legal workforce to ensure an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply.”

Adoption of similar legislation by the U.S. Senate will continue to advance this bipartisan effort to reform the nation’s farmworker visa system.

“The vote gives us hope that Congress can tackle such an important issue for Idaho agriculture,” said Naerebout.