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Category: politics

Little appoints new Department of Administration director. Gov. Brad Little has announced the appointment of Keith Reynolds to serve as director of the Idaho Department of Administration following the departure of Director Bryan Mooney, who left the post to work in the private sector.

“I appreciate Bryan Mooney for stepping up to lead the Department of Administration and accomplishing so much in the span of just one year, and I wish him the best as he returns to his roots in the private sector,” Little said. “Keith Reynolds has my full confidence. He will serve effectively in his oversight of the important business duties that the Department of Administration handles for the State of Idaho.”

Reynolds served as acting director in 2015, and has served as deputy director under two directors. He has been continuously licensed as an Idaho Certified Public Accountant since 1987. He brings his background as a private industry executive, entrepreneur, and government manager to the role. Reynolds joined the Department of Administration in 2012 as chief financial officer after working at the Division of Financial Management.  

“I appreciate the Governor’s confidence in me, and I pledge to serve with transparency and an eye for efficiency,” Reynolds said. Reynolds’ appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Dulce Kersting-Lark Announces Run for Idaho State House of Representatives in District 5. Dulce Kersting-Lark has announced she will run for Idaho State House of Representatives in District 5A.

Kersting-Lark has lived in Palouse since 2011 and is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Latah County Historical Society. She is the co-chair of the Moscow Women’s Giving Circle, an active member of the Moscow Central Lions Club, and a board member for the Idaho Association of Museums. She believes that today’s most pressing challenges can only be addressed if we carefully consider the historical roots of each contemporary issue. Her upbringing in rural America provides Kersting-Lark with a deep appreciation for those who make honest livings, and she is running to support those who build her region’s economy through agriculture, timber, and more. 

“District 5 residents have a proud history of working hard to achieve security for their families,” Kersting-Lark said. “The Idaho legislature will have a hand in shaping the next generation of our economy and I want to be in the legislature advocating for new technologies and industries in North Idaho that will strengthen the state’s economy. If we all come together and lend a hand we can accomplish more for the greater good of our communities. We must protect our lands and resources and invest in our children’s education in order to provide quality opportunities for Idaho families. My highest priority is to ensure that the voices of those from Latah and Benewah counties are heard.” 

IGEM Investment Subcommittee Announces February Meeting. The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) Council will meet on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 from 2-3 p.m. in the Clearwater Conference Room at Idaho Commerce, 700 W. State Street, Boise.

Idaho Commerce manages the IGEM commercialization grant program which awards $950,000 in state funding to projects between Idaho university and industry partners geared toward commercialization initiatives. The IGEM Council’s fiscal stewardship and strategic direction advances IGEM’s overall goal of economic prosperity through investments in technological advancements and innovation.       

During this meeting, the IGEM Council will review one application and discuss the IGEM program’s strategic outlook. 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 http://igem.idaho.gov 

Property Tax Freeze Legislation Headed to House Floor. The House Revenue and Taxation Committee has forwarded H409 to the House floor with a do pass recommendation. The legislation would freeze the property tax portion of a taxing district’s budget for one year with the exception of school taxing districts. Rep. Lauren Necochea (D-Boise) and other Democrats on the committee voted against the motion to send the legislation to the House floor with a do pass recommendation. 

“HB409 will not solve Idaho’s property tax problem. In fact, your property taxes will continue to increase because property tax assessments will continue to increase,” Necochea said. “Democrats are committed to correcting the dramatic property tax shift to homeowners. Serious conversations about property tax reform need to include updating the homeowner’s exemption, expanding our property tax assistance program (known as the circuit-breaker), and impact fees that will allow growth to pay for growth. I am not supporting this bill on the floor because it will not decrease property taxes and it is not a meaningful solution.”

Opioid Overdose Memorial Printed in House. House Health and Welfare has printed a joint memorial sponsored by Representative Jake Ellis (D-Boise). The memorial calls on Idaho’s congressional delegation to “take action necessary to make Suboxone more accessible to Idaho families facing opioid addiction.”  Suboxone is a medication that satiates cravings by filling opioid receptors and is effective when part of MAT (medication assisted treatment) for overcoming opioid addiction. The medication is safe and simple to administer, but under current federal law, physicians must obtain a special waiver to prescribe it.

“Suboxone has fewer side effects than over-the-counter pain relievers, does not induce a high or other impairment, and alleviates withdrawal symptoms that would normally complicate addiction treatment,”. Ellis said. “We think it’s time to remove the barriers that prevent practitioners from using this tool, especially in our rural areas where drug treatment resources are lacking. We’re eager to make this medication more accessible so people who are struggling to overcome addiction can get their lives back. They have jobs, families, and communities counting on them.”

Legislation to Ban Affirmative Action Goes to Floor. The House State Affairs Committee has voted to send HB440 to the floor. The legislation, from Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard), would roll back existing protections for historically marginalized communities by banning hiring, contracting, and education preferences for women and other marginalized individuals. Democrats on the committee were vocal about their opposition to the legislation.

“This bill legislates discrimination. It is offensive and any claim that this promotes equality is a lie. This bill leaves out religion and sexual orientation, and picks and chooses who is discriminated against. That in itself is discrimination and not the Idaho way,” said Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise).

“Today, we saw hypocrisy on full display. For several years our communities have been requesting an opportunity to have a full hearing to extend protections to all our communities.  Rather, this committee held a hearing that revokes existing long-standing discrimination protections from our marginalized communities,” Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) said. “Our voices will not be silenced, and we will use our position to elevate all our communities.”  

Idaho Commerce Opens 2020 Application for the Idaho Regional Travel & Convention Grant Program. The Idaho Department of Commerce-Tourism Development is now accepting applications for the Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant Program for the 2020 grant cycle. Applications must be submitted via the Department’s online portal by 4:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) April 1, 2020.

Created in 1981, the Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant Program is funded through the collection of a 2% tax on the sales of hotel, motel, private campground and vacation rental accommodations.

The Idaho Travel Council (ITC) oversees the grant program which distributes funds to non-profit, incorporated organizations which have a viable travel or convention program in place. The ITC has the goal of promoting the State of Idaho and the designated travel regions within the state through:

For more information about the Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant, including a detailed application schedule and an application preview visit: https://commerce.idaho.gov/tourism-resources/itc-grant-program

D.C. Court Rejects Work Requirements for Medicaid Expansion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has rejected arguments from the State of Arkansas which is trying to attach so-called “work requirements” to Medicaid Expansion eligibility. This is the latest blow to states who are attempting to restrict healthcare access to its citizens under the Medicaid expansion program. Idaho is currently awaiting federal approval for its own version of work requirement restrictions.

“The time has come for the state of Idaho to halt its efforts to restrict healthcare access to thousands of Idahoans who fail to fill out paperwork,” said Luke Mayville, Reclaim Idaho Co-Founder. “Make no mistake about it. These are not ‘work requirements,’ they are paperwork penalties that could upend the lives of working Idahoans all over the state.”

Several states, including Indiana and Arizona, are reconsidering or suspending enforcement of so-called “work requirements” in light of recent court decisions. The State of Kentucky recently dropped its attempt to restrict healthcare access through its own version of paperwork penalties. Idaho’s restriction is similar to those in other states and is under federal review. Even if approved at the federal level, it will likely face legal scrutiny.

Conversion Therapy Ban Legislation Printed. Legislation has been introduced in the House Health and Welfare Committee by Rep. John McCrostie (D-Boise) to protect LGBTQ young people from the dangerous practice of conversion therapy. 

“Conversion therapy has been discredited by a number of prominent health organizations,” McCrostie said. “It is an incredibly harmful practice that has no proven benefits, actually encourages self-harm, and drastically increases the likelihood of suicide attempts in LGBTQ young people. In 2017, Idaho’s suicide rate was 5th in the nation. By becoming the next state to ban the practice of conversion therapy, Idaho can prevent suicide and protect our citizens.”

"The Trevor Project applauds Rep. John McCrostie and all fair-minded legislators in Idaho for taking the first step to protect the Gem State’s most vulnerable youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” said Troy Stevenson, Campaign Manager for 50 Bills 50 States at The Trevor Project. “According to our research, LGBTQ youth who had undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who did not. Implementing these vital protections will work to save young lives in Idaho.” 

Gov. Brad Little’s calendar

MONDAY, February 17, 2020

Governor Little will speak at the annual 4-H Know Your Government Breakfast the Red Lion Boise Downtowner, located at 1800 W. Fairview Ave., at 7 a.m.

Governor Little will issue a proclamation for Day of Remembrance, a day commemorating the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, in the Ceremonial Office at 1:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, February 18, 2020

Governor Little will issue a proclamation for Boise State University Day at the Capitol in the Rotunda at 8:30 a.m.

Governor Little will preside over the regularly scheduled Land Board meeting in the Boise City Council Chambers at 9 a.m.

Governor Little will present the Idaho Ag Summit Excellence in Agriculture Awards at the Red Lion Boise Downtowner, located at 1800 W. Fairview Ave., at 12:15 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, February 19, 2020

Governor Little will answer questions from the media at the Idaho Press Club Breakfast at Beside Bardenay, located at 612 W. Grove Street in Boise, at 8 a.m.

Governor Little, all five Idaho Supreme Court Justices, and legislators will hold a press event for the ceremonial signing of an executive order, Supreme Court Proclamation and Order, and legislative Concurrent Resolution establishing the Idaho Behavioral Health Council in the Governor’s Ceremonial Office at 2:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, February 20, 2020

Governor Little will host a joint press event with members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation commemorating the passage of USMCA in the Ceremonial Office at 11:45 a.m.

Governor Little will host a press event regarding Idaho’s original Constitution in the Ceremonial Office at 1:00 p.m.

FRIDAY, February 21, 2020

Governor Little will attend the City Club of Idaho Falls INL Agreement Celebration Event at the Bennion Student Union Multipurpose Room at 1784 Science Center Dr., Idaho Falls, at 4:00 p.m.