Friday, February 08, 2008

Rep. Pence: Legislative Report Week 5

What a week for Democrats!! The Obama rally Saturday was inspiring and then being able to drive back to Gooding for the Democrat Caucus last Tuesday was frosting on the cake. It was great visiting with everyone and listening to politics served up grassroots-style. Gooding County about doubled their last caucus numbers. Also heard great reports from the rest of the District 25 caucuses.

Bad news appeared on the economic scene. Tax receipts are down $35 million for January. If this trend continues, it will not bode well for agency budgets and establishment or continuation of programs. Bare bones budgets are hard on all concerned.

This is the last week for Routing Slips (RS) to be introduced in our afternoon committees (for me Agriculture and Natural Resources). Not only am I listening to 5-8 new concepts being introduced each committee, but was also tying up loose ends and generating support for an RS with Rep. Eskridge dealing with the operation and use of state outdoor sport shooting ranges. It establishes a uniform noise standard for these ranges and offers them grandfather protections from nuisance actions resulting from new housing moving in around them. There is great support state wide from sportsmen and it will be heard Monday.

No concrete information on a teacher pay plan. There is the possibility that the category 4 contract (the one requiring teachers to give up continuing contract) will be dropped as part of the pay plan. Still some movement to better train administrators to evaluate teachers and to supervise improvement plans designed to help a teacher become more proficient. There is a still a lot of support for concurrent enrollment in our high schools. This would allow students to take classes which qualify for both high school credit and college credit at the same time. This would enable students in some cases to graduate from high school with enough credits for an AA degree. College of Southern Idaho is working hard to develop classes available in the Magic Valley. A longitudinal data system which would enable instant access to individual records by authorized individuals looks to be a go. If a student were to move to Gooding from Sandpoint, this system would enable a teacher to instantly access records and put that student in classes at his or her proper level. There will be many other educational uses for this type of statewide data system.

Are you aware of the Department of Corrections has the Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) program? This is a free, automated hotline that provides crime victims with vital information and notification 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. This service will allow you to obtain offender information and to register for notification of a change in offender status, such as offender release. This program offers peace of mind to victims of crime and does protect the public. Visit the Idaho VINE hotline at 1-866-9VINE-ID or visit

The Lincoln, Camas, Blaine and Gooding County elected officials were in Boise this week. It was great to talk with all of you. Thanks for the work you do and for the great ideas you come up with for making Idaho such a great place to live.

If you are in town, drop in and personally give me your opinions. Otherwise phone me at 1-208-332-1271, e-mail at, or write P.O. Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0038

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