July 30, 2018

Weekly Column: Balancing Road Safety With Realities Of Ag Production

Holding town meetings in all of Idaho's communities enables me to hear clearly some of the most pressing issues on the minds of Idahoans. Oftentimes those concerns are echoed by their neighbors and in other communities. At town meetings held earlier this year in Idaho's unincorporated communities, Idahoans shared concerns about the impacts of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate on safely hauling Idaho agricultural goods, including livestock and perishable commodities such as milk and f… Continue Reading

July 23, 2018

Weekly Column: Advancing Judges Who Will Protect The Constitution

Our nation's first president, George Washington, wrote in 1789, "The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government." The judicial system's critical role in our constitutional republic is reflected in the process for appointing federal judges, which apportions responsibility between the two political branches of government. The Senate Judiciary Committee, on which I serve, is tasked with considering judicial nominations, including for the U.S. Supreme Court, appellate courts and… Continue Reading

July 16, 2018

Weekly Column: Backing Collaborative Forest Management

The U.S. Forest Service reports that between 2010 and 2016, Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) projects resulted in the treatment of more than 2.4 million acres to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and the maintenance of 630 miles of trails. The agency also found that $1.2 billion in local labor income, and an average of 5,180 jobs were created or maintained each year nationwide through CFLRP projects. Each fire season, the threat of wildfires bears down on many… Continue Reading

July 09, 2018

Weekly Column: Freeing The Engines Of Our Communities

I often think about the Americans in communities across this nation who have sat at their desks well into the night trying to make sure they filed necessary paperwork and kept up to date on federal regulations so they can keep their small businesses afloat, provide for their families and ensure steady income for their employees. These producers are the engines of our communities and economy. One of my top priorities in Congress has been to curtail unreasonable government mandates unnecessarily… Continue Reading

July 02, 2018

Weekly Column: Celebrating Our Shared Independence

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate independence-the heart of Americanism. Our shared responsibility to safeguard our independence serves as a unifying force. Our form of government has withstood the tests of 242 years because of our commitment to protecting the freedoms that our inspired founders affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, the adoption of which we celebrate this holiday: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their… Continue Reading

June 25, 2018

Weekly Column: Untangling Veterans Health Care

I was contacted by an Idaho veteran who was denied U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage for an emergency hospital visit because he had not been to a VA doctor in the past 24 months. This veteran is among thousands of veterans nationwide caught up in complicated requirements. Legislation I authored was recently signed into law that will help make non-VA health care options more straightforward for veterans. This new law requires the creation of an education program to inform veter… Continue Reading

June 18, 2018

Weekly Column: Our Economy--Heading In The Right Direction

Unemployment is down, way down to the lowest national rate in many years, at 3.8 percent in May. As of April, unemployment was at 2.9 percent in Idaho. Employers added 223,000 jobs nationwide in May alone. Average hourly earnings have increased 2.7 percent. Small business owners report record-level employee compensation and more job openings than qualified applicants. This data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Idaho Department of Labor and NFIB, along with reports of property values… Continue Reading

June 11, 2018

Weekly Column: Honoring Peace Officers

"Blessed are the Peacemakers . . ." is etched in a stone waterfall at the center of the Idaho Peace Officers' Memorial in Meridian. The names of the 71 Idaho officers killed in the line of duty are memorialized on the boulders surrounding the waterfall. The memorial and the ceremonies held there and at other memorials throughout the state to honor fallen officers help ensure that this devoted service is justly remembered. The U.S. Senate recently unanimously passed a resolution that lists… Continue Reading

June 04, 2018

Weekly Column: Holding Veterans Services Administrator--Health Net--Accountable

"We are fed up. In our view, the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) management of the Health Net contract has been a failure. While Health Net is the administrator of the Veterans Choice Program in our states, VA is ultimately accountable for Health Net's poor performance." In March, I joined ten fellow senators in calling on the VA to address ongoing concerns with Health Net's poor performance in administering the Veterans Choice Program (Choice program). The VA promptly responded that He… Continue Reading

May 28, 2018

Weekly Column: Memorial Day: Honoring Fallen Heroes

Thank you to all those who gather to honor our fallen heroes at Memorial Day events throughout Idaho, and especially, thank you to all those who have served our nation and support the service of others. A commitment to honoring the service of Idahoans who protect and defend our nation is a fundamental part of Idaho communities. Idahoans have established many places and events around our great state that provide opportunities to honor military families and reflect on their immense service. An … Continue Reading

May 21, 2018

Weekly Column: Honoring Idaho's Teachers

Rebecca (Becky) Mitchell, who is the head of the language arts program at Vision Charter School in Caldwell, was selected to be the 2018 Idaho Teacher of the Year. Becky is recognized as a teacher who is committed to preparing students for life after high school and encouraging students to pursue higher education. Becky is a great example of Idaho teachers who dedicate their time and talents to inspiring students. As the school year draws to a close in many districts, it is a good time to tha… Continue Reading

May 14, 2018

Weekly Column: Keep Moving To End Domestic Violence

When I think about the impacts of domestic violence, I think about a couple of young children I met years ago at a safe house in Twin Falls County. I will never forget them. I have referred to them often as I have spoken and written about domestic violence. The effects of abuse on their lives touched me deeply and helped cement my focus on abuse prevention. We owe it to them and all those affected by domestic violence to keep moving forward in ending this abuse. The Violence Against Wo… Continue Reading

May 07, 2018

Weekly Column: Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights

In recent weeks, several financial services firms have issued new guidelines that could effectively cut off financial services to law-abiding firearm manufacturers, retailers and firearms purchasers if they do not comply with the bank's firearms preferences. This raises serious concerns about large financial institutions-that receive significant forms of government support and benefits-using their market power to manage social policy by withholding access to credit from customers and companies … Continue Reading

April 30, 2018

Weekly Column: Putting The Brakes On Fire Borrowing

The political divisiveness in Washington, D.C., may make advancing sensible legislation seem nearly impossible. But, legislation ending fire borrowing was pushed over the finish line by a group of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and both Houses of Congress. I have been proud to be a part of this effort that will better enable agencies to fight wildfires like the disasters they truly are and reduce wildfire risks. As wildfires intensify across the West, wildland firefighting costs are e… Continue Reading

April 23, 2018

Joint Delegation Column: Goodbye To Old Federal Tax System

This is the last week where taxes will be paid under the more complicated old federal tax system that takes more of your hard-earned income. When you file next year, rate reductions will be among the more clearly felt benefits of tax reform. The positive outcomes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are continuing to take shape, but the advantages-including bonuses and wage increases; business investment, productivity and job growth; boosts to retirement assets and other investments; and time and reso… Continue Reading

April 16, 2018

Weekly Column: Countless Reasons To Love The People Of Idaho

Embarking on town meetings in Idaho's unincorporated communities, I have been reminded of how much I admire and respect the people of Idaho. The dozens of meetings held so far in recent weeks in unincorporated communities build on the more than 200 meetings I held in every Idaho city between 2014-2016 and have allowed me to reach into new areas of the state seldom visited by most non-residents. This is an opportunity to hear directly from many across Idaho about what is on your minds. We are … Continue Reading

April 09, 2018

Weekly Column: Veterans: Mental Health Resources

Mental health is an essential part of everyone's well-being, and mental illness touches the lives of millions of Americans. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in six U.S. adults lives with a mental illness. It affects Americans of all backgrounds and vocations. For example, we know that the life-threatening experiences of those who serve our nation can leave scars, and veterans deserve comprehensive services that support their return to civilian life. A thoughtful Idaho… Continue Reading

April 02, 2018

Weekly Column: Ground Work For The Farm Bill

A quote from our nation's first president, George Washington, about the central role of agricultural production is inscribed on the exterior of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's main building in Washington, D.C.: "With reference either to individual or national welfare agriculture is of primary importance." This importance is deeply felt in Idaho communities, where farms and ranches put food on our tables and support jobs. The need for timely reauthorization of the next Farm Bill is a mess… Continue Reading

March 26, 2018

Weekly Column: Enabling Community Banks And Credit Unions To Better Serve Idahoans

As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, I regularly hear from community banks and credit unions, especially those in Idaho, about how they have struggled to keep up with the ever-increasing regulation coming out of Washington. For years, senators on both sides of the aisle have been working to find consensus on how we can provide relief for smaller financial institutions from regulations that were meant for the biggest, most complex institutions, while also ensuring a safe financial system… Continue Reading

March 19, 2018

Weekly Column: Advancing Nuclear Innovation

The Idaho National Lab (INL), the world leader in research and development of nuclear energy and a key partner in sustaining our nation's commercial nuclear power sector, has been home to more than 50 cutting-edge nuclear test reactors. It has led innovation after innovation, breakthrough after breakthrough. The imagination, ingenuity and hard work of the scientists at the lab ensure the United States remains the leader in the development and commercialization of nuclear energy. Legislation I… Continue Reading

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