Legislative Newsletters

Here we’ll post the most recent newsletters from our local legislators.

Jeff Thompson 3/24/2015

Friends,

As the session winds down, I hope that you have found this newsletter valuable.  It is meant to keep you informed and up to date about things going on at the State Capitol in Boise.

As you know, funding our transportation infrastructure is crucial to our economic prosperity.  In that light, the House Transportation and Defense Committee voted for a bill to raise to raise $70 million to $100 million for Idaho’s roads and bridges. The bill is the first major roads funding legislation to clear a committee this year.  The plan would draw roughly $13 million in general funds for roads every year the general fund grows at least 4 percent. It also includes a 2-cent transfer fee and temporary 5-cent fuel tax hike. The bill now goes to the full House.

The full House will also soon address legislation that would repeal a 2013 bill that allows racetracks and off-track betting establishments to use slot-machine-like terminals.  Businesses like Double Down Betting Sports Bar and Grill in Idaho Falls would be dramatically affected if the bill were to become law.

Over the next few days I expect the Legislature to pass the all-important public schools budget. Over half of the total money spent every year goes to educating our children.

As you might guess, a large portion of that budget goes to paying our valuable teachers. The House has passed a “career ladder” bill, which combines pay hikes with increased monitoring of teacher performance.  The legislation would also add bonuses for our best teachers.  The bill is a consensus measure that has been endorsed by all sides, from teachers to school administrators to lawmakers from both parties.

As always, you can get more information about these and many other issues at myFacebook page.

Though the session is nearing an end, please continue to let me know your thoughts and opinions on the issues during the Legislature. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Jeff

Many of my colleagues and I met with Canadian Government officials at their reception for Idaho legislators.

Jeff Thompson 3/10/2015

Friends,
I’m sending this newsletter to you to keep you informed and up to date about things going on at the State Capitol in Boise.  I hope that you will continue to find it useful.

March 4th was our first opportunity to Celebrate Idaho’s first official “Idaho Day” and thanks to Rep. Linden Bateman for all his hard work- Bateman brought the bill that passed the Legislature last session to establish the annual day of recognition.  Both the Senate and the House had celebrations that included Native Americans, Idaho school children and Historic proclamations.  The chamber sessions were followed by a public celebration in the Lincoln Auditorium with Governor Butch Otter and First Lady Laurie Otter.  Idaho Day commemorates March 4, 1863, the day President Abraham Lincoln established the State of Idaho.

As Chairman of the Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee, using technology to help educate our young people is particularly important to me.  It appears that the demise of the IEN may prove that the ingenuity of small business in Idaho is a better way to provide broadband service to Idaho Schools.  As school districts across the state have scrambled to replace the failed IEN contract they are discovering they can in most places find a better cost and equal to or better service.  This has led to much discussion regarding whether or not the Dept. of Ed should seek a statewide broadband service contract as opposed to providing funding for local districts to do it themselves.

The long-term health of Idahoans is a top concern mine and helping to provide top-notch physician is key.  Medical Education continued to receive a green light in this years’ budget for increased funding or WWAMI students and residency programs.  JFAC voted to fund 5 additional seats this year and continue with the funding of 10 seats created over the past 2 years as part of a 4-year plan to double the number of WWAMI students to 40.   A 12.7% increase was given in total to medical training that also included increased funding to residency programs in the state.    The WWAMI program has a 73% retention rate overall of their students that remain in Idaho after completing their medical training.

As always, you can get more information about these and many other issues at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thompsonforidaho.
Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on the issues during the Legislature. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Jeff

Jeff Thompson 2/27/2015

I was proud to attend the Buy Idaho Capitol Show at the Capitol this week.  The show is held annually in the state capitol every February during legislative season providing an opportunity for networking business to business, with elected officials, and thousands of visitors. Buy Idaho has hosted this event on all three floors of the rotunda for over 20 years.
Dear Friends,I’m sending this newsletter to you to keep you informed and up to date about things going on at the State Capitol in Boise.  I hope that you will continue to find it useful.The Idaho Legislature has begun to address the desperate need for road funding by passing HB 95 which would exempt materials for public roads from the sales tax, as a way to indirectly try to get more money routed to road maintenance by lowering private contractors’ bids.  It is hoped that this bill could free up $15 to $20 million dollars for Idaho’s roads and bridges.  There is much more that needs to be done, but I believe that this is an important step in the right direction.Our United States congressional delegation came to speak to the Legislature this week.  U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch both warned us of future fiscal devastation at the federal level.  In fact, they pointed out that interest on the national debt will eclipse the total military budget within eight years.  In Idaho, we balance our budget.  I believe that Washington DC needs to do the same thing.This week I spoke to The Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association (ICUA) which represents Idaho’s rural electric cooperatives and municipal power companies.  ICUA member companies serve over 130,000 customers throughout Idaho and serve approximately 16% of all electric consumers in Idaho.  This group is important to our area.  The Bonneville Power Administration supplies over 96% of the wholesale electric power that ICUA member utilities deliver to their customers.As always, you can get more information about these and many other issues at myFacebook page.  Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on the issues during the Legislature. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Jeff

Jeff Thompson 2/13/2015

This week I sponsored a resolution honoring a great Idahoan– Kentucky Derby winner Gary Stevens.
Dear Friends,I’m sending this newsletter to you to keep you informed and up to date about things going on at the State Capitol in Boise.  I hope that you will continue to find it useful.I’m proud to report that, as a member of the House Revenue & Taxation Committee, I voted in favor of HB 75 which grants a sales tax exemption for prescription glasses and contact lenses.  This bill should save a lot of money for Idaho families who rely on glasses and contact lenses.Idaho is one of just six states that charges sales tax on prescription glasses and all other prescription items already are exempt, and have been since Idaho’s sales tax was instituted in the 1960s.  Its time that we eliminated this burden.ARTICLE V CONVENTION BILL PASSES OUT OF STATE AFFAIRS
A bill to consider Idaho’s role in an Article V Convention passed the House State Affairs Committee this week.  The proposed legislation that would provide for the procedures for selection of and exercise of authority by Idaho delegates to an Article V Convention if it is called by the states. The bill does not call for a convention, but simply allows Idaho to be prepared to represent its interests should one be convened.  Passage was along party lines.TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE SEEKS EXTENSION
Idaho will seek a compliance extension from the federal government to seek alternatives to the Real ID Act.  Idahoans will no longer be able to use their Idaho drivers licenses on commercial air flights as identification because Idaho, along with 9 other states refused to comply with the, Real ID ACT.  The measure was opposed by Republicans and Democrats when it was rejected by the Idaho legislature in 2008. Implementing the Act at this point could be a very costly project for Idaho.  Idahoans my use their passports in lieu of an Idaho drivers license should the issue not be resolved by 2016.As always, you can get more information about these and many other issues at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thompsonforidaho.Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on the issues during the Legislature. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Jeff

 

Jeff Thompson 2/7/2015

Dear Friends,
I’m sending this newsletter to you to keep you informed and up to date about things going on at the State Capitol in Boise. I hope that you will continue to find it useful.

There is a great deal of discussion amongst the Idaho Legislature about Idaho’s need for funding our crumbling transportation system. In 2010, the Governor’s Transportation Task Force identified a $543 million annual shortfall in the state’s transportation system, and we know that $262 million is necessary just to preserve the existing system annually.

I’m very concerned about Idaho’s hundreds of aging bridges. Over the last few weeks we’ve heard warnings from transportation officials and the Governor about Idaho’s aging and structurally deficient bridges.

There are 4,198 state and local bridges in Idaho, and more than half of them will be over the age of 50 years by 2019. According to projections from the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), less than 80 percent of Idaho’s bridges will be considered in “good” condition — the ideal goal is to meet that 80 percent threshold.

Governor Otter pointed out during his State of the State address last month “That number will grow to almost 900 bridges by 2019, even after completing work on the 68 for which we currently have funding.”

The ITD has explained the situation in a different way. ITD has told us that most Idaho bridges were built during the interstate construction era of the 1950s and ‘60s and were designed to last 40-60 years before being replaced. At current funding levels bridges will have to last 120 years.

The experts tell us that it is time to address Idaho’s infrastructure with more funding. Many legislators, including me, are committed to finding a solution to addressing roads and bridges in Idaho.

The fiscally conservative thing to do is to take care of this problem now before it gets more expensive as we delay this decision. Like a roof that has just sprung a leak, we must fix it now rather than wait till the entire roof needs replacing.

As always, you can get more information at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thompsonforidaho.

Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on the issues during the Legislature. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Jeff

Jeff Thompson 1/29/2015

Dear Friends,

This is a first in a series of messages that I will use to keep you informed and up to date about things going on at the State Capitol in Boise.  I hope that you find it useful.

I’m pleased to report that the House Leadership named me as Chairman of the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee.  I’m truly honored that Speaker Bedke chose me to Chair the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee.   As Chairman, I will oversee the committee that deals with issues concerning INL and many other important issues that are important to the Idaho Falls area.

I’m particularly excited to chair a committee that deals with such an important issue.  Everything we do– from education to business– we can’t do it without energy. I think we forget that sometimes because we just take it for granted.

I also plan to use this position of chairman to proactively work with the Idaho Technology Council to help promote the growth of high-tech industries in the state.  Idaho has a lot to offer and we need to let the rest of the United States—and the world—know about it.

Leadership is often described with words like prestige, power, and position. But that isn’t how I define it. To me, leadership can be described in one word – service. I look forward to to continue to serve the people of Eastern Idaho. Leadership is about results, and I pledge to continue to develop legislation that will benefit our communities, uphold our timeless values, and preserve our liberties.

During the session, you can watch live coverage of proceedings at http://idahoptv.org/insession/leg.cfm.

As always, you can get more information at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thompsonforidaho.

This week, I am back in Boise and continuing my efforts on your behalf. Please let me know your thoughts and opinions on the issues during the Legislature. I’m listening to you!

Sincerely,

Jeff

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