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It is certainly a different atmosphere at the capitol because of the Coronavirus, and we have basically quarantined ourselves. In Teton County, someone who had recently been out of state began exhibiting some symptoms and had been around other members of the community. I quickly got the governor’s office involved and we feel the situation is under control, however, please take precautions and stay isolated as much as possible. President Trump recommends not being in groups larger than 10 people. If you think you have symptoms, please get tested ASAP, isolate completely, and let District 6 or 7 Public Heath know immediately, so they can take precautions in your area. In Franklin county call 208-233-9080. You can get tested at most hospitals and at public health district offices. For state government updates, please visit coronavirus.idaho.gov.

We did pass emergency funding of $3.3 million dollars to combat the outbreak. We moved $19 million dollars from the Budget Stabilization Fund to the General Fund due to anticipated revenue shortfalls and uncertain times

Property Tax

We are still at ground zero. The House passed a budget freeze from property tax revenue. as a temporary solution. However, the Senate voted this down. Senate Bill 1277 raised the homeowner exemption and would have shifted the burden to agriculture and other landowners. The Farm Bureau, along with me, do not support tax shifts. SB 1277 was amended by the House to not shift the burden to landowners. The Farm Bureau supported it but he Senate shot down any relief.

SB 1384

Senator Lakey and I teamed on this school safety act. It would have allowed school staff to carry a concealed firearm in schools K-12 with the enhanced concealed weapons permit. A would-be terrorist would be less likely to attack a school with armed staff. Our gun-free signs invite would-be terrorists! The bill was voted down in the Senate State Affairs committee, 5-4. I appreciate Sen. Mark Harris, who was a co-sponsor of the bill. Other senators who voted for it were senators Chuck Winder, Steve Vick, and Kelly Anthon. Those who voted against were Republicans Brent Hill, Patty-Ann Lodge, and Mary Souza. Democrats who voted against it were Michelle Stennett and Cherie Buckner-Webb.

SB 1295

I have been extremely disappointed with the growth of government and the attack on the free market this legislative session. In our rural district, telehealth services are very beneficial to our citizens. This bill places more restrictions on teledentistry, which has the same approval rate as brick and mortar dentistry. The argument was about patient safety. I feel this was a guise for a turf war and a bill to stifle competition. The legislature doesn’t need to play referee every time there is a squabble about scope of practice. This bill requires teledentistry patients see a dentist at a physical location, just to get a referral to participate in teledentistry. This defeats a reason many use teledentistry. Many in our district don’t have dental insurance. Teledentistry is an affordable way to receive services, such as teeth straightening. This bill passed both chambers and is now sitting on Governor Little’s desk to be signed or vetoed. The only other state with this level of restriction on teledentistry is California. Many other states have voted this down.

HB 457a

This is my sex offender bill. The current law states sex offenders cannot be within 500 feet of a school, my bill adds licensed daycares. It also fixed a problem in the current statute, which mistakenly had an exception to allow sex offenders living in facilities to loiter on school grounds. This bill is now on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed.

Due to the coronavirus, it is recommended that people absentee vote this year. idahovotes.gov/absentee-voter-information

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