Rep. Ronald Nate – District 34
SBAC Testing Not Required
Sometimes a bill doesn’t need to pass in order to have an impact. Merely bringing the issue forward causes key decision makers to reconsider current practices, explore alternatives, and respond to citizen input. The bill to repeal the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is a perfect example. Because of parents’ feedback and legislative pressure, the rules for K-12 education were changed this year. The SBAC test (tied to Common Core) is no longer a graduation requirement for Idaho public school students.
Parents may opt their kids out of SBAC testing and not have to worry about it affecting their graduation plans. This is huge for those who have researched the SBAC test, or standardized testing in general, and have concerns about how children are affected by them. Parents no longer have to face the difficult choice of having their children take a test they see to be flawed and harmful, versus opting out and being threatened with delayed or denied graduation. The requirement is gone.
But where is the bill? For the third year now, we have seen a bill to repeal the SBAC test stalled in a Committee. The bill does not forbid SBAC tests, instead it removes the requirement for all Idaho School Districts to administer the long, expensive, and stressful test to their students. School Districts liking the SBAC test would still use it, but others could opt for a less-expensive and preferable test for their students.
Even though the bill is stalled yet again, its impact is real because of the rescinded SBAC testing graduation requirement. Please help me spread the word about SBAC testing being optional. Parents and children need to know they can opt out, and that districts should not apply pressure or impose penalties or consequences for students not taking the test.
In the meantime, I will keep working to get the bill heard and debated in the House Education Committee. Many parents, students, teachers, and districts are asking for action, and I will do my best to help get their voices fully heard in the Capitol.
Public Notice in the 21st Century
To promote the principles of transparency and open government, Idaho law requires government entities to publish public notices about meetings and other events in local newspapers. For state, county, and city governments this means extra expense for paying newspapers for the advertising space and printing. It also means sometimes delaying meetings because papers do not necessarily publish on every day, and law requires a minimum number of days of advance notice prior to meetings.
My (Madison) county commissioners and some involved citizens asked if we could change the law to allow governments the option to publish public notices online instead in the newspaper. We drafted a bill to allow governments the option for online publication, but keeping the requirements of meeting all advanced notice days, and maintaining a historical record of all published notices. If the bill becomes law, governments could save thousands of dollars in publishing costs.
Some have asked what this means for citizens who lack internet access. It’s true, not everyone is “wired.” Similarly, though, not everyone gets the paper. This bill would allow local governments to decide what is best for their jurisdictions. No government would be required to abandon print publication, but they may if they choose. They may stay with print in the newspapers. They may choose to do both. Local officials are elected locally, so we should expect them to be responsive to what the citizens want.
Online publication could save governments and taxpayers a lot of expense. One of the larger counties in Idaho estimates their expenses for print publication to be $60,000, An official at the Idaho Department of Administration figures the department could save around $130,000 for taxpayers.
There has been a lot of feedback on the bill and the vast majority are in favor of it. City and county governments welcome the opportunity to reduce their publication expenses. Citizens look forward to being able to look up notices online, anytime, rather than searching for the newspaper. Unfortunately, the bill is being held in the drawer of the House Local Government Committee chairman.
The bill deserves a hearing to see if representatives from all over Idaho similarly see online public notice as a good idea. The best way to see if it’s a good bill at this point is to have a open and fair debate. If the bill causes problems for some representatives, or if it fails on its merits, then that’s ok; but to see it fail on the whims of one chairman, does not honor our representative government. Representatives should be allowed to represent.
Scenes Around the Capitol
It’s always a treat to have visitors stop by the capitol. The pictures above show a few fun events this past week. Top left: Mayor Jason Richardson (Rigby) and his students stopped by the House Chambers for a visit. They are in Boise learning about the legislature this week. Top middle: Capitol at night. Top right: The 4-H Know Your Government breakfast was on Monday. I had the pleasure of meeting Cash Crowther, Kelsey Kempel, and Dallee Hogge, all from the Madison 4-H program. Bottom: The “motorcycle profiling” prohibition bill was heard in our Judiciary and Rules committee on Tuesday. The room was packed with bikers in support, and the bill passed unanimously.
Bills of Interest Update
Here is an update of some of the key bills working their way through the Capitol.
H67 – Income Tax Cut – Stalled in Senate Finance Committee.
H109 – City referendum elections in all years – Stalled in Local Government Committee.
H110 – Front license plates optional on some vehicles – Failed in the House, 28-42.
H137 – Fix omission in law allowing homeowners to do electrical work on their property – Committee hearing on Feb. 23.
H154 – Transparency in Tax Notices – On amending orders for a change in the bill. House floor vote pending.
H172 – Civil Asset Forfeiture – House Judiciary Committee – new bill introduced on Feb. 21st.
H179 – No Mandatory Minimum Sentencing – House Judiciary Committee.
S1050 – Immunization Exemption Rights – Stalled in Senate H&W Committee.
___ – Repeal Common Core – Stalled in House Education Committee.
___ – Repeal the SBAC Test – Stalled in House Education Committee.
___ – Strengthen/Revise Castle Doctrine – Stalled in House State Affairs Committee.
___ – Concealed Gun Rights Expansion – Stalled in House State Affairs Committee.
___ – Require Informed Consent on Abortion Pills (to give women information about how to reverse a chemical abortion, therefore saving some babies before it’s too late) – In drafting stage. Hearing pending.
___ – Firearms safety classes in high schools – Bill ready for print hearing in House Education Committee.
___ – Electronic publishing of public notices – Stalled in Local Government Comm.
___ – Repeal Health Insurance Exchange – Stalled in Health and Welfare Comm.
___ – Article V Convention – Senate State Affairs Committee.
___ – Other tax cut bills – In drafting stage.
Growing Freedom – Get Involved!
Please visit the Growing Freedom Idaho website to help all citizens be more involved with what is going on in the Idaho Legislature and how to effectively make their voices heard. The site includes a Freedom Agenda of legislation brought to the legislature by citizens and is what liberty minded legislators are pursuing this session.