June 05, 2017

Bill To Extend Secure Rural Schools Funding

I joined fellow Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and a large, bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that would extend payments under the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, commonly called county payments, to rural counties with large tracts of tax-exempt federal lands in Idaho and other states. Without the SRS program, existing revenue sharing payments are not sufficient to support the services many Idaho counties must provide. This federal obligation to rural residents … Continue Reading

May 29, 2017

Intellectual Property Protections: Backing Idaho Ingenuity

U.S. Forest Ranger Edward Pulaski helped save the lives of fellow wildland firefighters in Idaho's 1910 Big Burn. He is credited with using his experience to refine what is known as the Pulaski tool that is still widely used to assist with wildland firefighting. Ed Pulaski's innovation is on display at the Wallace District Mining Museum & Visitor Center. This Idaho hero and innovator is a fitting representation of the grit and ingenuity that defines Idaho. Idahoans have been at the cutti… Continue Reading

May 22, 2017

Honoring Excellence: Idaho's Teacher Of The Year

I recently had the great honor of meeting with Mary Lynn Spiker who was selected to be the 2017 Idaho Teacher of the Year. The role of teachers cannot be overvalued. Robert Frost characterized teachers as "awakeners." They inspire and plant seeds of understanding that can lead to not only successful careers, but also successful lives. I congratulate Mary Lynn Spiker on her selection for this honor and thank her and the many Idaho teachers she exemplifies for the work teachers do each day to … Continue Reading

May 15, 2017

Needed Review Of National Monument Designations

Americans deserve to enjoy a variety of benefits from our nation's abundant, while increasingly pressured, public lands. Top-down national monument designations can result in severe restriction on access to public lands and economic disruption to surrounding communities. States and affected stakeholders where a monument could be located must play a key role in the decision-making process. A recent Executive Order issued by President Trump would help with this objective by providing for the re… Continue Reading

May 08, 2017

Addressing The Need For More Veterinarians

Access to quality animal care is critical to Idaho's agricultural economy. But, too often, ranchers and farmers cannot access the care they need because of a lack of veterinarians. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) joined me in leading the reintroduction of the bipartisan S. 487, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA), that would address the shortage by helping to increase the placement of more veterinarians in areas of the country where they are desperatel… Continue Reading

May 01, 2017

Property Seizure Abuses Must End

In past columns, I have written about legislative efforts to stop the abuse of asset seizure laws to take Americans' property without proof of a crime, or even an arrest or warrant. A recent report from the Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration (TIGTA) sheds further light on the alarming property seizure practices of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). TIGTA's mission is to provide oversight of the federal tax system to ensure the IRS "is accountable for the trillions of dollars in… Continue Reading

April 24, 2017

Weekly Column: Rolling Back Federal Intrusion

On March 7, 2017, the Senate passed H.J.Res. 44, a resolution of disapproval to overturn the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Resource Management Planning Rule, also known as "Planning 2.0." This resolution, which has since been signed into law by President Trump, rolls back a federal mandate limiting necessary local involvement in natural resources management and affecting multiple use of public lands. This is one of the approximately a dozen Congressional Review Ac… Continue Reading

April 17, 2017

Young Idahoans--Helping Build An Even Better Idaho

This Earth Day provides an important reminder of the remarkable natural assets all around us and the considerable work and problem-solving required to sustain these resources so that we all can continue to experience their benefits. I had the opportunity to meet with Idahoans involved in the Idaho Conservation Corps (ICC). The work they are doing to maintain Idaho's natural resources is worthy of highlighting. ICC enables Idaho youth and young adults statewide to assist with resource manageme… Continue Reading

April 10, 2017

Idaho Youth Leadership

Helen Keller wrote in 1930, "It is not possible for civilization to flow backward while there is youth in this world." Meeting with Idaho delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a reminder of the great promise for the future of our state and nation found in Idaho's young leaders. The U.S. Senate established the USSYP 55 years ago to recognize the leadership potential of students elected to student body offices in high schools across the U.S. and encourage the deepening of their… Continue Reading

April 03, 2017

Judicial Duty To Follow The Law

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I met with Judge Neil Gorsuch, who President Donald Trump nominated to serve as Associate Justice. Judge Gorsuch's comments during our talk still resonate. He said, "My personal views are irrelevant as a judge." That is the ideal illustration of a judge steadfastly committed to our law and upholding the separation of powers defined in our Constitution. Through 20 hours of public testimony, he reaffirmed his commitment to the Oath of Office and J… Continue Reading

March 27, 2017

Federal Obligation To Idaho Counties Must Be Met

Secure Rural School payments are critical to ensure that counties across Idaho and the nation, accommodating tax-exempt, federally managed lands, have the resources necessary for local schools, roads, bridges, forest management projects and public safety priorities. The federal responsibility to meet this commitment remains. I recently joined fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch and 78 of our congressional colleagues in sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Office of Management and Budget (O… Continue Reading

March 20, 2017

Clearing Out The Mess Of Overregulation

In a Presidential Executive Order issued February 24, 2017, President Trump called for an extensive review of existing federal regulations to determine whether they should be eliminated. This step to clear out regulations saddling Americans with unnecessary restrictions, paperwork and financial burden is a needed and sensible undertaking to help invigorate American investment and ingenuity. The order establishes task forces in every government agency charged with reducing regulation and lim… Continue Reading

March 13, 2017

Opportunities For America

In his recent speech before Congress, President Donald Trump outlined a message of optimism that resonated with many. He laid forth an ambitious agenda that, if we work together to implement, will strengthen America. The President offered an agenda rooted in personal liberty and economic freedom with three bold agenda priorities: to strengthen our national security; provide for our veterans; and unleash robust job creation. Many military families, including those at Idaho's own Moun… Continue Reading

March 07, 2017

Top Priority: Improving Veterans' Access To Care

Many Idahoans, especially those in eastern Idaho, are aware that there are extensive delays with reimbursement to health care providers through the Veterans Choice Program (Choice program). Some providers have had to stop serving veterans through Choice because they were not getting paid. These payment challenges have impacted the ability of Idaho veterans to use the program. I am committed to fixing this, along with the other problems with the Choice program, to ensure Idaho veterans are able… Continue Reading

February 27, 2017

Lessons Learned From Vietnam Veterans

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the majority of Idaho's veterans served during the Vietnam War. Veterans put their lives on the line and lost friends and family during their service to our country. They experienced great loss and personal sacrifice while being criticized for doing as they were told. They are among the first to step forward and help fellow veterans and others in our communities. Many lessons can be learned from these great Americans. As Americans, it is our duty to hono… Continue Reading

February 20, 2017

Bipartisan Majority Of Senate Urging Strengthening Of Medicare Advantage

In Idaho, one in three Medicare beneficiaries have chosen a private health plan through Medicare Advantage (MA), which allows beneficiaries to select a health plan that best suits their individual budget and health needs. Given the successes of Medicare Advantage for many in Idaho and across the nation, maintaining and strengthening it will ensure its long-term stability. I recently led a letter signed by fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch and 63 of our Senate colleagues to Centers for Medicare &a… Continue Reading

February 13, 2017

Protecting Constitutional Rights

I recently reintroduced S. 202, the Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act, to protect Social Security beneficiaries from having their constitutional rights arbitrarily revoked. I also co-sponsored a similar Congressional Review Act resolution to halt a rule issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the waning days of the Obama Administration that would erode Americans' Second Amendment rights. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed similar legis… Continue Reading

February 06, 2017

Furthering Nuclear Innovation Benefits Idaho

For the past three years, the Research and Business Development Center and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have worked together to quantify INL's economic impact. The recent report on the lab's economic contributions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 demonstrated the substantial benefits nuclear research brings to our great state. Removing roadblocks that prevent continued innovation in the nuclear sector so that our state can continue to benefit from INL's great work is important. This year's … Continue Reading

January 30, 2017

Warning About Tax Season Scams

"As the tax filing season approaches, it is critical that all taxpayers remember to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees," warns the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), J. Russell George. He further cautions that the callers are aggressive and relentless. "Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash. We continue to actively pursue those perpetrating… Continue Reading

January 23, 2017

Priorities For The 115th Congress

The 115th Congress presents an opportunity to deliver real and lasting change for the American people. We must seize the moment to fundamentally change the course of our country to restore prosperity, stability and liberty. For far too long, we have let the enormous federal government curtail and hold back American ingenuity and opportunity through misguided central planning and political ideology. Replacing one-size-fits-all, top-down government controls should unleash the true entrepreneuri… Continue Reading

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