June 20, 2016

Wildfire Season Has Become A Misnomer

In the past, warm spring weather touched off the start of the worst wildfires. Now, unfortunately one fire season essentially runs into the next. Summer is just starting and states already are reporting what the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) calls "large fires." More than a million acres have already burned this year. ( https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm) It is time to get ahead of the terrible trifecta of high temperatures, drought and massive fuel build-up that sparks bigger, h… Continue Reading

June 13, 2016

Celebrating Idaho's Basque Heritage

Basque traditions, art and history form an integral part of our state's heritage.  Basque migrants first brought their work ethic to Idaho over a century ago.  Today, Idaho bears the proud mark of that stalwart tradition from the high desert ranges to the halls of the Statehouse.  Visitors to our nation's capital this summer can learn more about and celebrate this central part of Idaho's culture at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  I am honored to serve as an honorary co-host of the Basque con… Continue Reading

June 06, 2016

Celebrating Teachers

Most of us can remember a teacher who made a difference in our lives.  For me, that teacher was also my mother.  As an English teacher, she recognized the importance of good grammar and punctuation for clear communication.  The lessons she taught me have stuck with me throughout my life.     And, teachers do so much more than impart lessons.  They are entrusted with our most precious gifts-our children.  Teachers inspire.  They identify and grow their students' talents.  They patch up skinned k… Continue Reading

May 30, 2016

Calling For County Payments Extension

The federal government is responsible for the impact of federal land ownership on local communities, and it must meet this responsibility within its budget.  A bipartisan group of 33 fellow senators, including Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), recently joined me in calling for the reauthorization of critical payments to rural counties that help ensure this responsibility is met. In the letterto Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), we pushed… Continue Reading

May 23, 2016

Honoring Idaho Law Enforcement Officers

During National Police Week this month, our nation honors its law enforcement officers and remembers those who have given their lives protecting our communities.  Coeur d'Alene Police Sergeant Gregory King Moore, a husband and father who served in the Coeur d'Alene Police Department for 16 years before he was killed last year in the line of duty, is among the law enforcement officers who are being honored this National Police Week.  A Senate Resolution I co-sponsored honors Greg Moore and 122 o… Continue Reading

May 16, 2016

Financial Literacy

In a strained economy, putting together the financial reserves necessary to be able to meet financial challenges and retire without being stressed financially is indispensable.  Following an informed personal financial plan, even during tough times, can help improve conditions for our families. Last month, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution, S.Res. 427, that I co-sponsored that seeks to increase financial literacy that empowers individuals to make wise financial decisions a… Continue Reading

May 09, 2016

Continuing Idaho's Legacy Of Nuclear Innovation

Using clean nuclear energy must be part of any forward-looking domestic energy portfolio.  I am working on legislation to once again make the United States the world leader in nuclear technology and development.  One of my measures will build on the Idaho National Lab's (INL) legacy, allowing it to become home to a new center focused on the development of the next generation of nuclear technology.  My other measure will provide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) with the resources and guida… Continue Reading

May 02, 2016

Recognizing Service Of Vietnam Veterans

Our country has a deep history of honoring our heroes and learning from their selfless service.  But, rather than being welcomed home, our troops who served in Vietnam faced treatment unworthy of their courage and sacrifice.  We must never let this happen again.  It is encouraging to see efforts underway to better recognize the service of great Americans.  I have joined my colleagues in proclaiming March 29th as Vietnam Veterans Day.  The U.S. Senate paid tribute to the more than 58,000 members… Continue Reading

April 25, 2016

Steps To Improve Veterans' Access To Local Care

Many veterans in Idaho share a need to be able to use local health care providers more easily, especially for specialty care.  In this column, I outline efforts to improve veterans' access to local health care providers through the Veterans Choice Program (VCP) and similar programs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has several programs that allow veterans to receive care in the community, or "non-VA care."  The VCP is one of these programs that is intended to allow veterans to recei… Continue Reading

April 18, 2016

Service Academy Nominations

Idaho has many promising young leaders, and nominating deserving young Idahoans to United States military academies is one of our great honors.  We are holding annual Service Academy Days this month to provide information to young women and men interested in receiving an excellent education while developing leadership abilities and serving our country through attending service academies.  In addition to the Academy Day we hosted in Boise earlier this month, we are hosting two Academy Days in no… Continue Reading

April 11, 2016

Being On Alert For Tax Season Scammers

With tax filing deadlines hitting, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is advising Americans to stay on alert for threatening calls from impersonators falsely claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. TIGTA indicates it received reports of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scammers making more than one million contacts over the past few years, and more than 5,500 victims have collectively paid approximately $29 millionas a result of the scam. The scam is des… Continue Reading

April 04, 2016

From The Mailbag: Monument Designations

As active participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces.  Realizing that many may not have the chance to contact me, I post the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my responses on my website.  Idahoans have contacted me regarding potential monument designations and land acquisitions in western states.  The following is my response: The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes U.S. Presidents to unilaterally design… Continue Reading

March 28, 2016

Year Of Pulse Crops

This year has been declared the International Year of Pulses to help raise awareness of the importance of these crops in meeting world nutrition needs, encourage research and development and better ensure the availability of pulse crops to consumers around the world.  Pulse crops include dry peas, dry beans, lentils and chickpeas.  Idaho pulse crop producers are working hard to meet this important nutritional need.    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that despite pulse crop… Continue Reading

March 21, 2016

Objecting To Cuts To Medicare Advantage

As we continue to consider comprehensive reforms to our health care system, we should look to the highly successful Medicare Advantage (MA) program as a model of coordinated care that aligns payments with patient outcomes, rather than the number of procedures.  Any proposed changes to the MA program should encourage innovation, increase competition and expand beneficiary access to these private Medicare plans.  I recently led a bipartisan and growing group of 61 senators (8 more than signed a si… Continue Reading

March 14, 2016

Nuclear Energy Innovation Legislation

Nuclear energy and nuclear research have been underutilized as a reliable, safe, clean and efficient part of our national energy portfolio.  Bipartisan legislation we introduced and we are working to advance in Congress would help drive needed innovation in this important sector by helping remove barriers to advancements within the private sector and strengthening collaboration with national labs to maintain American preeminence in nuclear energy.  The nuclear industry in the U.S. faces many ch… Continue Reading

March 07, 2016

Fire Borrowing Must Be Fixed Now

Disaster-scale wildfires are going to continue to be a threat.  We can better prepare for the increasing costs of wildland fire suppression by providing land managers and fire fighters the certainty needed to plan and allocate resources properly without robbing from other priorities during each fire season.  I recently had the opportunity to join fellow Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in speaking on the Senate Floor and offering a bipartisan amendment to draw attention to the need to permanentl… Continue Reading

February 29, 2016

Advancing Regulatory Relief For Idahoans

Legislation that would eliminate a costly and redundant U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation affecting pesticide users progressed in Congress when the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), on which I serve, approved it as an amendment to S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act.  This is an important step in clarifying congressional intent concerning federal regulation of pesticides and codifying longstanding interpretation of regulatory statutes after a 2009 cou… Continue Reading

February 22, 2016

National Debt: We Must Get Real

As our national debt now exceeds $19 trillion and as Congress prepares to establish budget frameworks for the coming year, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has issued projections that require us to take notice of the ever-growing pit of debt our nation is amassing.  We must get real and make the changes necessary to stop the growth of the national debt that seriously weakens our country. CBO's projections speak to the magnitude of the problem. CBO estimates that the ann… Continue Reading

February 15, 2016

Presidents' Day

The Smithsonian's American History Museum is home to the inkwell President Abraham Lincoln used while writing the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The museum notes that Republicans in Congress were urging President Lincoln to take a stand for freedom, and Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation ordering that on January 1, 1863, all slaves in states still in rebellion would be "then, thenceforward, and forever free."  The original of the Emancipation Proclamation now rests i… Continue Reading

February 08, 2016

Encouraging Idaho Youth Leadership

Young leaders hold great promise for the future of our country.  They are tomorrow's innovators and problem solvers, and encouraging them to become engaged citizens can bring lasting solutions to our nation's most complicated issues.  The U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is once again providing an opportunity for Idaho students to develop their leadership skills. The U.S. Senate established the USSYP 54 years ago.  The program's creators recognized the future leadership potential of students e… Continue Reading

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