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Capitol Letters | Idaho Legislature Report: Chasing ghosts


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Capitol Letters newsletter is a daily look at Idaho Legislature’s 2022 session, from highlights and reported stories from the past day’s events to tomorrow’s important votes & hearings.

McClatchy

By Hayat Norimine, Accountability Editor; and Ryan Suppe, State Politics Reporter

‘Please, please vote yes’: Bill aims to help teachers afford better health care

House members passed a bill they hope would make health insurance more affordable for Idaho teachers. House Bill 443 would create a state fund to help subsidize the costs for school districts to join the state employees’ insurance plan.

Rep. Wendy Horman, an Idaho Falls Republican, said she had been working on this bill since her first legislative session 10 years ago, with the singular goal of making health care coverage more affordable for Idaho educators. Salaries haven’t kept pace with climbing health insurance prices, she said, and teachers in some cases have had “catastrophic” health care coverage.

With the help of Rep. Rod Furniss — a Rigby Republican who’s a licensed insurance agent — “what’s coming this year is a game-changer, I believe, for teachers,” Horman said on the floor.

“I plead with you to pass this bill,” Rep. Gary Marshall, an Idaho Falls Republican and former public school teacher, told his colleagues. “It is the right time. It is a thing that we must do. Please, please vote yes on this bill.”

It’ll still need approval from the Senate. Read the Associated Press’ full report here.

What else happened?

  • The State Board of Education president got questioned about critical race theory again. At the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee yesterday, Rep. Ron Nate, a Rexburg Republican, brought up diversity, equity and inclusion goals and said they were manifestations of critical race theory. President Kurt Liebich said school officials are trying to define these terms — “so we’re not running around the state chasing ghosts.”

Committees to watch today

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Hayat Norimine covers state politics for the Statesman. She has covered government for The Dallas Morning News and in Washington state, is a University of Washington grad and has a master’s in journalism from Northwestern.

Ryan Suppe covers state politics for the Idaho Statesman. He previously covered local government and business in the Treasure Valley and eastern Idaho. Drop him a line at rsuppe@idahostatesman.com.
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