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Coming Up:

FRIDAY, MAY 29
I will provide keynote remarks and First Lady Lori Otter will speak at commencement exercises for Twin Falls High School, 7 p.m., Physical Education Building gym, College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls.
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Memorial Day 

A group of young Marines of Treasure Valley meeting with WWII Medal of Honor recipient Art Jackson at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery.

Memorial Day is a great time for many Idahoans to jump headlong into summer and all the outdoor recreation that our great state has to offer. But Memorial Day also provides an opportunity to reflect on the purpose of the holiday. It gives us a chance to acknowledge the courageous men and women who gave their lives in defense of liberty and the American way of life. We must never forget our heroes' sacrifices, and we must remain forever vigilant in protecting and cherishing our hard-won freedoms. I'm sure many citizens of a grateful state and nation paused in their activities last Monday to express their gratitude to all those who protect and serve us every day. May God continue to bless America and our valiant warriors around the world.

Idaho Veterans Cemetery. Photos courteous of the Idaho VA.
 

 

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Special Session  


It took hours - not days. The Idaho Legislature reconvened in special session on Monday, May 18 th to consider legislation to preserve Idaho's child support system. Legislation slightly amended from what was tabled by a House committee before the regular session adjourned for the year was approved by both the House and Senate this time. Legislative leadership joined me the next morning to applaud lawmakers' efforts in passing a bill that will maintain federal support for a system on which nearly a quarter of all Idahoans depend. I called the special session after Senate Bill 1067 was tabled by nine members of a House committee after being approved by the Senate. Like the bill passed on the 18th, that earlier measure would have brought Idaho into compliance with federal child support enforcement rules. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had given Idaho until June 12 to adopt the changes or face the loss of significant federal support.
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Trade Mission 

Governor Otter and Cabinet Visiting Peru's International Potato Center.
From May 9 th through the 16 th the First Lady and I traveled to Lima, Peru, and Mexico City, Mexico with a delegation of Idaho business and organization leaders to help them connect with potential customers and partners in Central America and South America. T he delegation received a warm welcome in both Peru and Mexico and generated serious interest about the innovative Idaho products and services we were promoting. Relationships and friendships were established in both countries, and I'm confident the trip will lead to continued opportunities for our trade mission participants, and I'm grateful for the hospitality of our Peruvian and Mexican hosts. Idaho's exports to Peru totaled just over $17 million in 2014 - up 16.4 percent from 2013. The trade mission established new customer relationships that will help accelerate export growth into that country. Mexico already is Idaho's sixth-largest trading partner.  Our exports to Mexico were valued at more than $301 million in 2014 - up more than ten percent from the year before. The Mexican market continues to grow and provide new sales opportunities for Idaho businesses. And by the way, our exports already support more than 26,000 jobs - reason enough to keep aggressively marketing Idaho around the world!
Governor Otter discussing Idaho Economic Opportunities with the Leaders of Grupo Carso in Mexico City
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First Lady's Focus: Barbara Morgan and the Stem
STEM Academy Community Garden
 
On April 22 nd I was honored to join astronaut Barbara Morgan in speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Barbara Morgan STEM Academy Community Garden in Meridian.  The student-designed community garden represents a shared vision of students, parents, staff and community to provide students and the public with hands-on opportunities to learn about gardening and service.  Every child at the Barbara Morgan STEM Academy has one square foot of gardening space. The garden will provide students the opportunity to learn about plants, soil, hard work and the joy of serving others. Home Depot and other community businesses donated the materials that made this project possible, and the produce from the garden will be enjoyed by families and community members in need. Principal Ryan Wilhite says he is "confident this garden will be a benefit to students and the community for years to come."
 
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Spotlight Agency:
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

 

In 2014, the Idaho Legislature through HB 406 directed the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to seek state primacy for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, which is currently operated in Idaho by the US Environmental Protection Agency. This program helps control water pollution by regulating point source discharges from industrial, municipal, and other facilities into surface waters. Idaho is currently one of only four states that do not have a state-operated pollutant discharge elimination system.

 

This significant, multiyear process will involve a series of program development, rulemaking, and legislative initiatives. To lead this effort, DEQ recently hired a program manager, rules and guidance coordinator, and permit lead to begin laying the groundwork for the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program. For more information about program development, visit www.deq.idaho.gov/ipdes-program-development.

 

Because transparency and public participation are key priorities for developing a state program, DEQ initiated a negotiated rulemaking in early December to foster discussion on topics such as IPDES permits, permit applications and appeals, fee structures, and other program components. Over 100 interested parties participated in a successful kick-off meeting on site in Boise and via conference call around the state. The meeting was the first in a series of monthly rulemakings leading up to the fall 2016 primacy application deadline. To learn more about the negotiated rulemaking effort, visit www.deq.idaho.gov/58-0125-1401.

 

DEQ believes this new state-run program will be a positive development both for the environment and regulated entities. The state IPDES program will ensure compliance with state water quality standards and enable better access to permit writers and other staff with local experience. The IPDES program will use local water quality knowledge and a streamlined flexible process for issuing permits.

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Recent Appointments:

 

Board of Correction

Cindy Wilson -Meridian

 

Board of Medicine

Dr. Steven Malek - Post Falls

 

Board of Tax Appeals

David Kinghorn -Lewisville

Linda Pike -Moscow

 

Charter School Commission

Gayann DeMordaunt -Eagle

 

Children's Trust Fund Board

Jill Andrus -Jerome

Jennifer Tachell -Middleton

Molly Vaughn -Boise

JoAnn Gemar -Buhl

 

Dir., Dept. of Administration

Bob Geddes -Meridian

 

Early Childhood Coord. Council

Kent Hobbs -Pocatello

 

ID Endowment Fund Invest. Bd.

Charles Winder - Boise

Neil Anderson -Blackfoot

 

ID Pub. Safety & Security Info.

Kevin Hudgens -Caldwell

 

Military Advocacy Commission

Bruce Wright -Nampa

Rebecca Hupp -Boise

Lt. Gen. Mark Schmidt -Garden City

 

Serve Idaho

Kristen Tracy - Boise

Jesse Maldonado - Lewiston

Henry Henscheid -Blackfoot

 

Behavioral Health Planning

Judy Gabert -Nampa

 

State Insurance Fund

Todd Lakey - Nampa

Terry Gestrin - Donnelly