As your state representative, I have effectively advanced the conservative, family-centered platform you elected me to carry out. Bills I sponsored and passed during recent legislative sessions include: a bill to allow local school boards to hire retired law enforcement officers to provide school security, the expansion of Idaho’s concealed carry provisions, Idaho’s Vital Statistics Act (ensuring that biological sex is defined in state law and accurately recorded on birth certificates), and the Safe Schools Database Act (giving parents and school personnel tools to ensure that pornographic material is removed from K-12 databases). Each of these bills garnered strong majority support in both the Idaho House and Senate.
In addition, I spearheaded one of the most pro-active pro-family coalitions in the country, successfully passing 5 of 9 identified pro-family priorities and earning for Idaho the distinction of being named the most pro-family state in the country by the national Family Policy Alliance. Few legislators can point to such a track record. I have not only kept my promises, I have pro-actively worked to make Idaho a safer and better place for our families!
A lot of work goes on during the formal legislative sessions, from January to March, but there are also many important things underway during the other 9 months of the year. I thought you might be interested in hearing about some of the issues I, and other members of the legislature, have been working to address during the interim.
COVID-19 has significantly impacted our families, schools, businesses, churches, and health care institutions, to name a few. The potential for lawsuits related to COVID infections was a top concern. I served on the legislative committee that worked on this issue in preparation for Idaho’s special legislative session a few weeks ago. I brought forward (and was the prime sponsor of) the bill which addressed this concern and ultimately garnered majority support in both the House and Senate. As a direct result of this bill, schools and businesses throughout Idaho can now open, making policy decisions based on the real needs of their area without fear of frivolous lawsuits shutting them down. This was a significant victory for all concerned! I am grateful to see Idaho businesses up and running, Idaho students once again attending school and extracurricular activities, and church congregations resuming their services.
The COVID shut-down brought many needs into clearer focus. One example is the need for increased access to tele-health services. During the shut-down, many restrictions, including licensing restrictions, were lifted in order to meet critical needs. I am now participating in an interim committee on licensure exploring ways that burdensome and unnecessary regulations/restrictions can be lifted. Idaho is largely a rural state with many areas having very limited access to medical and mental health care services.
It is our hope that the things we have learned during the COVID shut-down will allow us to both reduce regulation AND better meet the needs of Idahoans going forward.
Our educational institutions have been particularly hard hit by COVID as they have struggled to meet the needs of students and teachers. We have experimented with innovations that we never would have otherwise and I, along with other members of the legislature, are looking for ways to benefit from the lessons we have learned. Certainly, the shut-down has highlighted the need for technology, for flexibility, and for local decision making. In addition, during the interim, a committee has, at the direction of the legislature, been working to review Idaho educational standards and prepare recommendations for improved standards. As someone who has been passionate about quality education all my life, I sincerely appreciate the work being done and look forward to reviewing the recommendations of the committee.
COVID has given us the chance, in many instances, to re-evaluate priorities. As we move past the initial concerns and unknowns related to COVID, many state laws and policies will be evaluated in a new light. Conversations about these issues are underway and include: the way emergency powers are structured in state law, the protection of religious liberty, and even things like the impact of Medicare and Medicaid regulations on hospitals, extended care facilities, and nursing homes.
Just this week, I and other legislators met with representatives from Idaho hospitals to discuss concerns about our elderly and those in our healthcare system who have been isolated from contact with families. The House State Affairs Committee, which I serve on, received heart-breaking testimony during the recent special session which included accounts of ill loved ones left to suffer and die alone ... and elderly people who are literally dying of loneliness. This is unacceptable! As legislators, we are working to understand the regulatory concerns of these institutions and pursue a solution that will better meet the needs of families and vulnerable Idahoans who are currently being isolated during times of great need.
With all the flap and blather that goes on during election season, I invite you, my friends and neighbors in Bingham County, to find out for yourselves who I am, what I believe, and the ways I am working to make life better for you.
I am hosting Hometown Strong Meet and Greets at local businesses during October. You are invited to come, support a local business, and enjoy a visit. My campaign will provide some hors d’oeuvres or deserts. Updates and information regarding these meet and greets are available through my website (https://www.youngforidahohouse.com/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/YoungForIdahoHouse/). Different precincts will be invited on different evenings in order to avoid too large of gatherings. However, if you are unable to attend during the time scheduled for your precinct, feel free to join us at another time or to send me a message and I will be happy to give you a call. I look forward to meeting you and would be delighted to address any concerns or answer any questions you may have. It is truly a pleasure to serve you as your state representative!