This was Education week for the Legislature. College students and faculty from all over Idaho came to the Statehouse to represent their schools.
The Joint Finance-Appropriation Committee heard presentations from the college and university presidents. There was much talk of remedial education required by the colleges to prepare high school graduates for college. They are providing some incredible customized workforce training. Superintendent Tom Luna also gave a presentation on public education, advocating for Common Core and increased teacher pay in Idaho. $35 million has been proposed for discretionary funding, which is sorely needed by our rural schools. One of the biggest expenses for schools is insurance which is about 50% of discretionary funding. It is disconcerting that that Blue Cross is passing on to the state the increased cost of insurance due to implementing Obamacare in our state. Go online at legislature.idaho.gov, select Joint Finance-Appropriation Committee, click download audio/video.
Honorable Chief Justice Roger Burdick addressed the Senate on the State of the Judiciary. Great strides have been made in problem solving courts throughout the state. As a result of the drug courts, 18 new babies were born drug-free to drug court mothers, bringing the total to over 300 babies since it was established.
On Wednesday, the Joint House and Senate Education Committee held a Common Core discussion forum. A panel of proponents and opponents answered questions submitted over the past 10 days regarding Idaho Common Core Standards. This forum can be seen online at http://www.legislature.idaho.gov : select Senate Standing Committees as the category, select Education for the Committee, then click Download Audio/Video for January 22nd. I have grave concerns about common core, especially the testing called SBAC. Hopefully, there will be legislation to deter the testing because testing determines what the student learns.
On Friday the Joint Senate and House Health and Welfare Committee held an open discussion forum during which the public were permitted to name issues and complaints. Many complaints centered on OPTUM Healthcare, which is the provider contracted by Health and Welfare to provide managed care. Most of the complaints were on delays for authorizations to begin care for patients. Both the Senate and the House will be hearing from OPTUM representatives next week to see how these issues could be resolved.
A bill has been presented requiring the Idaho Tax Commission to refuse the federal tax filing status for couples whose marriages are not recognized in Idaho, such as same sex marriages.
A personal bill was introduced to repeal Obamacare.