The legislative session kicked off Monday with Governor Little’s State of the State Address. In his speech, the governor announced his Leading Idaho Initiative, a plan meant to redistribute the state’s $1.9B surplus back to taxpayers.
Along with tax cuts, surplus dollars will also go towards a variety of one-time spending projects, the bulk being used on education and infrastructure. In terms of infrastructure, the governor would like to address Idaho’s massive backlog of road and bridge projects. Outdoor recreation access, water quality and quantity for agriculture, and improved wildfire response were also briefly mentioned in the speech.
Additionally, Governor Little addressed election security in Monday’s address. While he recognized Idaho elections are “free of fraud,” the governor also announced the creation of a Cyber Response and Defense Fund designed specifically to protect election integrity.
The first week of the session is generally somewhat quiet, with lawmakers attending trainings and settling back into the pace of things. Administrative rules are usually the first business legislators address. One set of rules CVI has tracked closely over the past several years pertain to science standards in our K-12 classrooms. The House Education Committee will hear proposed legislation to reject standards on Thursday morning. You can read more about this long-standing issue here. We’ll be tracking the debate of science standards closely – Idaho’s kids deserve to learn about important topics like climate change, alternative energy, and water conservation, among other things.
This session, CVI expects to work on several issues, including voting rights, climate change and clean energy standards, wildlife protection (chronic wasting disease in particular), open space and public lands, and clean water. You can learn more about the legislative process and how to engage at our virtual Legislative 101 event (rescheduled from last week!) on Thursday, January 13th from 6-7pm MST. Register here.
Because this session falls in an election year, with the added challenge of redistricting, expect to hear more than the usual amount of grandstanding, bombastic speeches, and out-there legislative proposals. CVI will be there to monitor, engage, and keep you in the loop on what’s happening at the Statehouse.