Archive for January 2010

Jan 29 2010

This Week in The Idaho Legislature

Uncategorized - 4 months ago - John McGee


This week in the Idaho State Legislature, we have focused on the education budget. On Thursday, Superintendent Tom Luna gave his proposal to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. In an effort to reduce the amount of cuts to education, Luna’s proposed budget asks that $3.3 million be taken from the State Department of Education’s driver training account, $2.2 million from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Account, and $52.8 million from the Public School Earnings Reserve Fund of the state endowment, for a total of $58.3 million in one-time boosts to the school budget.

Because of the “Great Recession”, this is the first time that the State of Idaho has had to consider making cuts in education. As a Senator, I have been a strong supporter of public education, but proposed cuts in the education budget shows just how bad the state of the economy is today. There are sure to be several other difficult cuts to state agencies and programs this session.

Also, this week I introduced Senate Bill 1271, which would make it a misdemeanor for an employer to knowingly hire someone, based on false immigration documents. The bill also punishes those who present false documents for employment. The passage of this bill will not only help ensure that employees are working legally, but it will also help protect jobs for Idahoans. During these difficult economic times, it is important for Idahoans to have as many job opportunities as possible, and this bill will help facilitate that.

Also, this week we have reviewed rules for state agencies. Rules can be looked at as the “meat” that goes on the “bones” of laws that passed by the Legislature. We are one of the few states in the nation that go through the process of making sure that approved rules from the previous legislative session are working properly. If they are not meeting the established goals, we will then go through the process of revising those rules and making sure that they are done correctly. I will continue to keep you informed of important information and legislation in the upcoming weeks.

Jan 22 2010

This Week’s Newsletter

Uncategorized - 5 months ago - John McGee

This week in the Idaho Legislature the Economic Outlook Committee met and put the main focus on the state’s budget. Based on their discussions, it is now clear that the state revenue numbers are even worse than originally forecast. This may be an even more difficult Legislative Session than we had thought. Raising taxes in this economic time, as recommended by some, is unacceptable. Many difficult decisions will have to be made as we balance the state’s budget. Simply put, if Idahoans are having to tighten their belts, their government should be, too.

On another note, as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am sponsoring legislation that would ban text messaging while driving. In the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase of this dangerous practice. This tool is recognizably helpful in terms of communication, but has become an increasing harmful problem when combined with driving.  It is unfortunate that we have to bring forth legislation that will prohibit a practice that is extremely dangerous, but it has become clear that something needs to be done.

Some argue that the existing inattentive driving laws will be sufficient in combating this problem. But other behaviors, such as drinking and driving, pose such a clear hazard that they need to be singled out and prohibited. To date, at least 24 other states -including Utah- have banned texting while driving. Idahoans are demanding that the time is now for Idaho to join those states in order to make our roads safer. You can view the draft legislation on my website, under the “current legislation” tab.

It has been a fast paced and productive two weeks in the Idaho Legislature, and I will continue to keep you informed of important information and legislation in the upcoming weeks.  Please visit my website for more information about this legislative session.  If you have any questions or comments send me an email at

This Year’s Financials

Uncategorized - 5 months ago - John McGee

State financial numbers are even worse than originally forecast. This may be an even more difficult Legislative Session than we thought. Raising taxes, as recommended by several Democrats, is unacceptable!

Jan 20 2010

College of Idaho Day

Uncategorized - 5 months ago - John McGee

Today, the Idaho State Senate voted unanimously to officially make today College of Idaho Day at the Idaho State Capitol. We had a lot of great alumni, staff members, current students, and board of trustee members attend the legislative session today. It was great to see such a great turnout of such great people.


Jan 15 2010

The End of the First Week

Uncategorized - 5 months ago - John McGee

idaho-state-capitol It has been a very busy week in the Idaho State Legislature. As you know, we are in tough times as a nation. Idaho is not immune to these economic hardships, as your Senator I will be working this session to find solutions for economic success and a responsible state budget. With the legislature back in town, the Governor took the opportunity of give his annual State of the State address in which he drew a fiscally responsible and prudent roadmap that the legislature can use as a guide for the this legislative session.

I have had many discussions with Governor Otter about the budget. As the Chairman of the
Senate Transportation Committee, I will closely monitor how the adjusted budget will affect decisions being made in working to solve Idaho’s transportation issues. It is important to continue to stay fiscally responsible with the current state of the economy. There is a growing understanding that there are transportation issues across the state that need to be resolved, and I will be posting weekly updates on transportation and many other issues.

In addition, healthcare is a very controversial issue this year. The Congress is currently considering major overhauls to our healthcare system. I am very concerned about the federal bill and, as a result, I voted in favor of a resolution that will (if passed by both bodies of the Idaho State Legislature) make Idaho’s opinion of the federal healthcare reform known to Congress. I do not believe that the federal legislation is the appropriate solution to today’s healthcare issues.

Jan 12 2010

Governor Otter Gives the State of the State Address

Uncategorized - 5 months ago - John McGee

Monday afternoon Governor Otter gave the 2010 State of the State address in the newly renovating “People’s House”. The moral of the message: “We must live within our means”.

Click here, to read Governor Otter’s full State of the State speech.



Uncategorized - 5 months ago - John McGee

seal300dpi_0 When I was first elected to the Idaho State Senate in 2004, I pledged my commitment to creating new, good paying  jobs and opportunities in our great state and my eye has been fixed on that goal ever since. My first priority was ensuring enhancements to Idaho’s transportation system because expanding Idaho’s economy depends on reliable and well-maintained roads and bridges. As the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I have been a champion of the Connecting Idaho program that continues to dramatically improve Idaho highways, and I believe more work is needed to restore and protect Idaho’s $16 billion highway asset.

I am committed to this effort because if Idaho wants to lead in the 21st Century economy, we have to act like leaders. If Idaho was a business and refused to invest in infrastructure improvements, we would become less competitive until we went out of business. Our state cannot afford further delays. Bold action is needed to drive the highway improvements that will ensure free-flowing commerce, not to mention meeting the growing safety needs of emergency responders and law enforcement.

My focus is to not only address our ailing highways and bridges, but to also bring accountability to the Idaho Transportation Department to ensure every penny invested produces a return for that investment. I sponsored an independent audit that was conducted in 2008.  The audit points out several opportunities for enhancing department administration, which could result in more than $19 million of one-time savings. But that still isn’t enough to address our highway backlog.

This session, you will see me advocate for resources to address this funding gap. Remember, fees have not increased since 1997 and the gas tax increase will cost the average Idahoan about $5 per month by the end of the plan.

These are difficult times, but also times of opportunity. I am committed to providing the leadership it will take to restore our transportation system and ready Idaho for a new century of thriving commerce and industry. Please continue to watch my Web site for frequent updates during the legislative session and sign up for my weekly newsletter.