Rep. Ronald Nate – District 34
Gun Safety Classes in Schools
The picture above is from the March 1956 issue of Life Magazine and it shows a classroom of youngsters in Indiana learning about guns and gun safety from a police officer. In the modern era of school shootings and growing gun ownership, many states are returning to gun safety classes in schools.
Currently, at least 11 states allow for gun safety classes in public schools from elementary school through high school. One state allows for gun safety classes in high school only. I am working on a bill to allow and encourage school boards to approve gun safety classes for Idaho schools. The bill is simple and it doesn’t mandate gun safety classes, it only encourages school boards to consider providing them as electives for secondary students. If successful, we can look toward expanding the program to primary schools as well.
There are several national education programs directed toward kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade. The focus is on what to do when in the presence of a gun. Many kids who have not grown up around guns, have a natural curiosity about them. The early gun safety classes teach them to Stop, Don’t Touch, Leave the Area, and Tell an Adult. The program has demonstrated success. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the National Rifle Association’s Eddie-the-Eagle program has reduced incidental firearm-related deaths among their children participants by more than 80%.
Even if kids don’t have guns in their home, there’s a significant chance they will encounter them in the homes of their friends or in other situations. Teaching them the proper dangers and cautions will help keep them and their friends safe. Many gun safety programs also teach about active shooter situations and what to do. This is valuable training for when and if such a horrible incident might occur in Idaho.
The Idaho bill to encourage school boards to offer elective courses in gun safety is currently in the House Education Committee, and it was successful in its introduction hearing today–a full hearing should be forthcoming. Hopefully Idaho can join the other states in adding to child safety by teaching them the basics about guns and gun safety. It can be a life saver.
How to Never Have a Budget Surplus
Since the “great recession”, tax revenues collected in Idaho have increased beyond expectations. Starting in 2011, revenues have increased by the following amounts: 7.9%, 5.9%, 6.3%, 2.4%, 8.6%, 4.2% and this year revenues are well ahead of the 5.0% forecast. In fact, this year we are expected to have over $140 million left on the bottom line with extra revenues coming.
I call this a budget surplus, but I was very surprised to hear others in the capitol claim we don’t have a budget surplus. Here’s the catch. With the implementation of the Career Ladder in 2016 and the Transportation & Gas Tax bill passed in 2015, the legislature established so-called surplus eliminators. These two bills spent a hefty sum to begin with (about $42m/yr for Career Ladder and $95m for Transportation), but they included provisions for directing any “extra” tax revenues to schools and to roads. These automatic appropriations effectively eliminate any surplus revenues. Therefore, it is claimed we have no surplus — as if the extra money never existed.
These “surplus eliminators” essentially pre-appropriate extra money flowing into the state. I don’t like the idea of spending all we can and then planning on spending up any extras as well. We should at least contemplate returning the money to taxpayers. When a surplus exists, it should require action of the legislature to spend it. We shouldn’t allow automatic spending triggers like the federal government does.
In the future, I will be voting against these surplus eliminators unless they are for the express purpose of returning extra revenues to taxpayers. It’s taxpayer money and taxpayers deserve to “keep the change” from unexpected over-taxation.
Scenes Around the Capitol
Professor Steve McGary brought his entire Ag Policy class from BYU-Idaho to the state Capitol (pictured above). It was great to visit with them in the House Chambers and chat about politics, policy, and procedures. They are a fantastic group of students!! This week the Idaho Boys Basketball Tournament tips off in Nampa. The highlight of tournament week will be the chance to visit with the Madison High School marching band which has my daughter, Anna “Weak Sauce” Nate playing clarinet.
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.
H94 – American Laws for American Courts – Stalled in House State Affairs Comm.
H109 – City referendum elections in all years – Stalled in Local Govt. Committee.
H110 – Front license plates optional on some vehicles – Failed in the House, 28-42.
H137 – Homeowners Electrical Work – House General Orders – Amendment on 3/2.
H154 – Transparency in Tax Notices – House General Orders – Amendment on 3/2.
H179 – No Mandatory Minimum Sentencing – House Judiciary Committee.
H202 – Civil Asset Forfeiture – House Second Reading calendar.
S1050 – Immunization Exemption Rights – Stalled in Senate H&W Committee.
HCR018 – Article V Convention – House State Affairs Committee.
SCR108 – Article V Convention – Failed in the Senate, 11-24.
___ – 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). Hearing pending.
___ – Firearms safety classes in high schools – Scheduled 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.
___ – Other tax cut bills – In drafting stage–Big announcement on 3/2, stay tuned!
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.