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It has been an interesting week in the legislature. We are at the end of the ninth week. The word is we will recess around the March 25, then come back to deal with the new round of federal stimulus money. Idaho doesn’t know what to do with all the money we have from the previous stimulus. However, if we don’t take it; it will go to a blue state. I am not fond of this stimulus. I do not believe it is needed and will only leave our children and grandchildren with even more outrageous debt.

The House killed House Bill 195. This bill would make it illegal to demonstrate or picket on a sidewalk in front of someone’s home. During my argument, I used Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson once stated that he would rather be exposed to the inconveniences of liberty than having a small degree of it.

I stated this bill would create free speech zones in Idaho and it would open Pandora’s Box. I stated I did not like that people demonstrated in front of an officer’s home or an elected official’s home. However, this is the cost of liberty. We cannot limit people’s freedoms, because we don’t agree or become uncomfortable. I am proud of our body for killing it. It surely would have passed the Senate.

House Bill 294 passed the House this week. “This bill has two parts. First, it creates the Strong Families, Strong Students grant program which would give families $500 per student to use for educational expenses, such as textbooks, tuition and fees at a private school, computers, therapy, or career technical education. Second, House Bill 294 provides scholarships to families that are worth 90% of state spending per student, or $6,041 to use for the same types of educational expenses as the grant program.

House Bill 294 transfers power from the government to families by trusting parents to make education decisions for their children. This bill provides explicit protection for homeschoolers by stating “Nothing shall be construed to give the state authority to regulate the education of nonpublic school students.” In this way, House Bill 294 would reduce the government’s intervention in the education marketplace in which government officials force students into a one-size-fits-all education system. Parents observe their children every day, and they are best suited to understand their child’s educational needs. Providing funding and resources directly to families to use for students’ educational needs makes the education system more flexible and student centered, which reduces the role of government officials in determining the method determining what education looks like.

The grant program is available to students regardless of the type of education they receive. This includes students at public schools, charter schools, private schools or homeschools. “In a post-Espinoza world, all students must be allowed to use tax dollars for educational purposes, regardless of the school they choose to attend.” – Idaho Freedom Foundation

House Bill 293 passed this House this week. “This bill returns education tax dollars spent per student to families if their public school is not open for full time, in-person instruction at least four days per week. Parents can use these funds for other education expenses suited to their child’s needs. These alternate expenses could include but are not limited to tuition and fees at a private school, tutoring, or therapy services.

“Under this bill, students and families who desired full-time, in-person instruction could have their needs met when public schools fail to adapt to the changing circumstances of COVID-19. Families should have this option even when public schools are open, as education tax dollars should support students, not a particular institution. Overall, House Bill 293 is a step toward funding students directly instead of a system that does not meet student and family needs. This curtails the scope of government in education by giving families more options to educate their children.” – Idaho Freedom Foundation

I voted for House Bills 293 and 294. I think they are great bills that help money follow the student, not the system. It also a great way for home schoolers to access money for education, if they choose.

House Bill 122 easily passed the House this week with a 52-18 vote. The Republicans who voted against it are Representatives Clow, Gibbs, Hartgen, Kauffman, Lickley, and Wood. I have worked hard on this bill for three years, advancing it further every year. I do appreciate Representative Gibbs recognizing that during debate. This bill allows school staff with the enhanced concealed carry permit to carry a firearm in schools K-12 without school board permission. Exercising one’s 2nd Amendment protected right should not require permission. I don’t post Republican votes to shame. I do believe if they vote against strong conservative bills that they need to explain themselves and be proud of their vote.

I want to tell our kids great job during the state basketball tournament. I am sorry for the very disappointing loss Preston had to Middleton during the championship game, 47-45. Hold your head up high boys! Great game! Be proud of the team you are! You are outstanding! I am proud of you!

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