After a break of 285 days, it’s great to be back at it with the Idaho Legislature. Seriously!

While we may not be positioned to advance major policy goals this session, I am motivated every day to continue the tradition of serving as your voice for conservation at the Statehouse. For 44 years, ICL has kept tabs on committees, hearings, bills and rules that affect the water we drink, the air we breathe and the special places we love. It’s a job that we take seriously and a tradition that I am honored and humbled to continue.

Each time I walk the two blocks to the Capitol, I sense the thunder of thousands of footsteps alongside me. When I stand before an often hostile committee, I know that you are standing behind me. Whether you know it or not, your support motivates me. Whether you give $1, $1,000 or $10,000 or you’ve just taken five minutes to send an email to an elected official, you keep ICL going-and you keep me going. So, THANKS!

Now Here’s What’s Happening

The session kicked off with Gov. Butch Otter’s final State of the State address on Monday. Otter outlined priorities including education, transportation, and (drumroll) tax cuts! Even though we’re still not back to prerecession funding levels for many programs, if they call it a surplus, it’s time to cut taxes…

Otter highlighted a couple of programs related to natural resources, including rangeland fire protective associations  and the Good Neighbor Authority. The first provides training and equipment to volunteer firefighters in rural areas of the state and has improved relationships between federal fire managers and the ranching community. The second is a relatively new program that provides state assistance to the U.S. Forest Service in administering fuels reduction, logging and restoration work on national forests. The Forest Service retains decision-making authority, follows all environmental laws, and develops the projects with support from local collaborative efforts, in which ICL is engaged. We’ll be watching implementation of the program closely to ensure that it meets our goals, but so far we are cautiously supportive.

New Tool in the Toolbox

ICL is excited to use a new outreach tool this session, which includes a cell phone text messaging platform. If you’d like to stay engaged with opportunities to testify on key bills, text 4Idaho YVC to 52886. We promise not to overload your cell phone!

Alternatively-if that technology isn’t for you, or if you just haven’t yet-you can always sign up for our weekly legislative update email, Your Voice for Conservation, delivered directly to your inbox. Use the signup box in the upper right corner of this page.

In Other News

With Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis’s (R-Idaho Falls) recent appointment as U.S. attorney for Idaho, there was a shakeup in Senate leadership. Sen. Chuck Winder (R-Boise) assumed the majority leader position in an uncontested race. The assistant majority leader position went to Sen. Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens), and Sen. Kelly Anthon (R-Burley) won the caucus chair position.  Vick has been an advocate for selling off state land and a leader in the push to seize control of federal lands. We are watching closely to see whether either of these issues gains traction in the state senate this year.

With the retirement of both Sen. Davis and Rep. Janet Trujillo, new faces around the Statehouse include Sen. Tony Potts (R-Idaho Falls) and Barbara  Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls).

Last But Certainly Not Least-The TOTW!

Finally, I am pleased to bring back the tradition of my tie of the week! Each week, I will try to wear a tie that is relevant to the discussions, debates and deliberations at the Statehouse. Since it’s the first week, there’s not much to, wait for it, “tie into.” So in recognition of my excitement to charge into the 2018 legislative session, I bring you my tie of the week.