Legislature – Good & Bad News

With March in sight and budget bills ready, the legislature moved into high gear this week, making some people happy, some sad, and others both happy and sad.

The most cheering news was that a bipartisan majority managed to kill two bills aimed at  repealing Medicaid Expansion while they were still in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

Representatives Julianne Young and John Green both argued that voters just weren’t bright enough to be trusted with such an important decision.  Okay, according to reporter Nathan Brown, their phrasing was more politically correct–the voters were “misinformed.” I imagine them doing some hand-wringing as they told committee members that voters weren’t aware that the state would have to pay 10 percent of the cost and, possibly, more than 62,000 would be enrolling.

I can also imagine Gov. Brad Little gritting his teeth as the pair carried on as though his State of the State address had not included a plan for funding the expansion. (Talk about misinforming voters.)

And Green went so far as to claim legislators may ignore the voters because, “we’re a constitutional republic, not a democracy.”

Don’t forget the names: Julianne Young, John Green.  And add the three who voted with them: Mike Kingsley, Megan Blanksma, and Bryan Zollinger.

And be thankful for Chair Fred Wood–and the three Republicans and three Democrats who joined him in killing the bills.

Bills to add work requirements and lifetime limits to Medicaid expansion are in the works.  Other states have spent millions administering such restrictions; that spending is not budgeted.

Many are also happy that the bill to create a committee within the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to review childbirth-related deaths passed the House last week.

Opponents of HB 109 nearly carried the day by arguing we didn’t need more bureaucracy to look into five to six deaths a year. The study, however, will become part of national data that may indicate why the U.S. maternal death rate is rate is three times that of Germany or the United Kingdom.

We will soon see how the Senate votes.

On a sad note, a bill to allow charter schools to hire non-educators as administrators, passed 21-12.  According to reporter Nathan Brown, Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer said “this bill is about giving charter schools a way to be more flexible and creative.”

Is there a stereotype that says educators are stuck in their ways? Or is it simply a feeling that education doesn’t require much expertise?

I’m sure necessity would make a non-pilot both flexible and creative in the cockpit, but It wouldn’t make up for lack of knowledge.

If a leader doesn’t have the experience to anticipate problems and work to prevent them, he or she won’t have the respect of the teachers. If a leader doesn’t understand the full scope of situations, he or she be inconsistent and follow the latest advice.

 And a leader without experience organizing playground activities and assemblies can get people hurt.

Idaho has many charter schools happy to have educators as leaders. Unfortunately, there are chains wanting to move in that are interested in milking the system for what they can get. They now have permission to hire “teachers” whose main job is recruiting. Do we really want them to hire directors who are more business-oriented than kid-oriented?

Now the House may act on SB 1058. I’d love to think members would stand up to the corporations pushing this, but I have doubts.

Expect the legislative roller coaster to pick up even more speed in the next few weeks.

 

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019

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