Friends and Neighbors:
The 2013 legislative session is finally over and we have much to be thankful for. I'm personally thankful for the opportunity to serve in leadership and gain valuable knowledge and experience in working with my colleagues. It's been a learning experience.
We should be thankful that the counties won the battle over the business equipment tax. Their plan (based on the 2008 compromise suggested by Democrats) exempts almost 90% of business in Idaho from the tax entirely while costing the state only about $20 million a year. The alternative would've devastated schools and communities.
The devisive issue of the health insurance exchange resulted in passage of a state-based exchange. This was my preference since we can better understand and serve Idaho consumers.
Unfortunately the expansion of Medicaid was delayed leading to a taxpayer loss of $40 million every six months. The economic impact of expansion runs into the billions of dollars for our economy. And we could cover over 100,000 Idahoans leading to lower cost health care and better outcomes. I'll be pushing to get this done sooner than later to lower property taxes for my constituents (we now pay these costs for "indigent" care).
The legislative response to federal gun violence prevention activities was measured and appropriate (thanks to the Senate). Budgets, though improperly prioritized (prisons +7.7%, schools +2.2%), began a slow climb.
The Senate tax committee continued to stop tax exemptions that harm our economy and critical services. My appreciation to our chairman and committee.
Unfortunately elements of the rejected Luna laws returned, your constitutional right to petition your government through the initiative process was restricted, teachers were again the target of retribution, and the Democratic VOTE initiative to improve the voting process was rejected.
All in all though I'd give the legislature a positive grade this year. Both parties worked together well and, in most instances, good public policy prevailed.
As always, if I can help you to improve your street, neighborhood, or community please contact me at
Representatives Chew, Gannon and I (Team 17) forged a strong bond during the session. Together we continued the team's powerful representation of the district and the state!
Coming in December 2013
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It's truly an honor to represent you and District 17 in the Idaho State Senate. I look forward to meeting you and to hearing from you.
District 17 State Senator
Paid by Werk for Senate, Susan Eastlake, Treasurer
Senator Werk named Legislative Advocate of the Year