In This Issue
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Coming Up: 

Thursday, January 25th:  
Governor Otter and First Lady Lori Otter visit the
SHOT Show,
Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas

 January 30th:
Governor Otter will host Capital for a Day in Genesee, 9:00 a.m., Genesee
 Fire Department
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State of the State - Healthcare
In my final State of the State and Budget Address on January 8th, I pointed out that healthcare has led Idaho's employment growth since I took office in 2007. It's added more than 26,300 jobs, accounting for 46 percent of our overall job growth and 13 percent of total employment in Idaho. That illustrates an important question that will be at the forefront of public policy debates for years to come: How do we make healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Idahoans? I'm asking lawmakers to consider enacting the Idaho Health Care Plan. It would stabilize Idaho's healthcare insurance market and give more working Idaho families the ability to purchase affordable coverage. The Idaho Health Care Plan will enable those with the most costly, medically complex conditions to move their coverage to Medicaid during the course of their illness. That will enable insurance companies to reduce their premium rates for the majority of people who remain in the individual marketplace. This isn't expanding Medicaid. It's providing Idaho's working families who have modest incomes a more affordable way to get the coverage they need. And it's a matter of fairness for Idaho citizens who actually get less help with coverage under the so-called Affordable Care Act than non-citizens legally residing here. The result will be lower rates for many more working Idahoans, leaving them better able to pay for life's other essential needs.  
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State of the State - Public Schools
The biggest investments in Idaho's future that I'm seeking from the Legislature this year are aimed at providing Idaho's young men and women with a leg up on postsecondary education and career opportunities. In my State of the State and Budget Address, I called for continuing to advance our career ladder system for increasing pay for classroom teachers based on student outcomes as a way of improving recruitment and retention of our best educators, providing the resources for better teacher development, expanding our early childhood literacy intervention efforts, improving our college and career counseling programs in Idaho high schools, putting appropriate school technology in every Idaho classroom, and advancing our statewide plan for shifting to mastery-based education. It's all part of our five-year plan for improving public schools, which is a watershed achievement for Idaho. With strong and diverse stakeholder involvement, with buy-in from educators, patrons and policy makers, and with the Legislature's continuing leadership and support, Idaho will keep building a world-class education system.  
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State of the State - Higher Education
I'm also calling for a big change in how Idaho's four-year college and universities are run. My budget request to the Legislature includes funding for the State Board of Education to hire an Executive Officer to coordinate the work of all our higher education institutions. The Executive Officer also will manage a system-wide consolidation of higher education support operations and the Board's continuing policy functions. That's one of the recommendations from my Higher Education Task Force, which worked during the past year to assess how we can achieve the moonshot goal of ensuring that 60 percent of our young adults have a postsecondary academic degree or professional-technical credential.  The Task Force concluded that we will never achieve the 60-percent goal the way higher education in Idaho is structured today. So its recommendations focus making our system more integrated, consolidated and student-centric. Shifting to an Executive Officer structure will bring tens of millions of dollars in efficiencies - savings that can be used for scholarships and new initiatives. That includes creating a statewide digital campus to better keep pace with what we need our higher education system to deliver.  
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State of the State - Workforce Development

Creating a homegrown pipeline of educated, trained workers was the mission of my industry-driven Workforce Development Task Force in 2017. My budget request to the Legislature this year reflects the Task Force recommendations that we invest in expanding capacity at our postsecondary technical schools, in providing additional incentive funding for high school career-technical education or CTE programs, and in expanding CTE offerings to the seventh and eighth grades. I'm also calling for development of more online CTE classes, and increased support for our six regional Workforce Training Centers. In the meantime, I've implemented Task Force recommendations aimed at ensuring employers have a more meaningful role in making our statewide workforce training efforts more responsive and adaptive to industry's increasingly technical needs. I'm introducing legislation to codify changes to the structure and authority of the Workforce Development Council and how it invests in one of the most crucial elements of Idaho's continuing economic growth
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State of the State - Cybersecurity
One of the biggest changes to the day-to-day operations of our State government over the past decade has been technology, and the challenges of responsibly managing and protecting our citizens' private information. As I reported to legislators in my final State of the State and Budget Address as Governor, we're making important progress on that front. Former Air Force cybersecurity expert Jeff Weak is now on board as Idaho's first director of Information Security. Under his leadership, State agencies have adopted rigorous national cybersecurity standards. Critical internet security controls have been put in place, and a comprehensive cybersecurity training program now is mandatory for every State employee. In short, we're doing all we can within our existing management structure to defend our State resources, and more importantly to keep our citizens' personal information safe from hackers, criminals or worse. By standardizing and optimizing cyber capabilities throughout State government, we will make Idaho a model for hardening our defenses while enhancing our ability to connect with citizens through social media and other online tools.  Read my State of the State Budget Address here.   
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Idaho Medal of Achievement

What a memorable Martin Luther King Jr.-Idaho Human Rights Day! I was joined by former Governor Phil Batt in presenting the second annual Idaho Medal of Achievement posthumously to iconic Idaho human rights leader Marilyn Shuler. Marilyn was director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission for 20 years, expressing her civic virtue through a lifelong dedication to public service and to making Idaho a more fair and open-minded state. Though Marilyn passed away last February, her family accepted the award on her behalf, including her son, Idaho Air National Guard Colonel Tom Shuler. I want to thank everyone who submitted a nomination for the Idaho Medal of Achievement this year. I encourage the public to go to my website or contact the Governor's Office to make nominations for next year's Medal of Achievement. The deadline for applications is March 31st. Make a nomination by clicking
here.  Watch the ceremony here
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More Affordable Health Care in Idaho
As I mentioned in my State of the State address, we are making big changes to healthcare in Idaho. As sanctions and mandates once required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are being lifted under the Trump administration, Idaho is at the forefront of making healthcare more affordable to its residents. Along with Lieutenant Governor Brad Little, I signed Executive Order 2018-02 (link), instructing Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron to seek creative ways outside Obamacare to make health coverage more affordable in Idaho. Many of the restrictions that the ACA created limit the state's ability to ensure its residents have healthcare they can afford. Idaho is saying goodbye to these Obamacare limitations as we create a more affordable marketplace for all Idahoans. Stay tuned!    
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Agency Spotlight: 
Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission
Formed in 1939, the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission's focus is to help Idahoans use the state's natural resources to benefit people while maintaining and improving those resources for future generations.  The Commission practices Conservation the Idaho Way: voluntary, locally led agricultural stewardship activities accomplished by a four-way partnership of state, federal, and local governments and landowners.

By providing funding and technical assistance to Idaho's 50 locally led conservation districts and offering incentives, the Commission helps promote stewardship projects on private lands throughout the state. The federal and state agencies provide funding and technical expertise, and conservation districts conduct outreach and typically, boots-on-the-ground. The Commission also provides incentive programs.  For example, the Resource Conservation and Rangeland Development Program (RCRDP) provides low-interest loans (2.5 percent to 3.5 percent, depending on the term) to farmers to install conservation practices and equipment. Eligible funding requests include efficient irrigation and no-till farming equipment.  Although no-till farming has been promoted since just after the Dust Bowl era, recent advances have made this practice more popular than ever.  No-till farming protects the soil from heat and wind, provides organic nutrients, and prevents runoff and soil compaction.  No-till equipment allows a farmer to plant and provide nutrients without plowing, encouraging natural soil fertility and restoring the soil food web.
The Commission also partners with the USDA, Departments of Water Resources, Fish and Game, and others to address water shortages in the Idaho Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer region.  Through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), enrolled farmers agree to take marginal farmland out of production, remove noxious weeds, and re-seed with native grasses and other vegetative cover.  In exchange, they receive a modest annual rental payment from the USDA Farm Service Agency. The CREP program helps reduce groundwater consumption and improves wildlife habitat.The Commission also works with the Department of Environmental Quality to develop and implement effective measures agricultural landowners can use to voluntarily address Total Maximum Daily Loads of nonpoint source pollutants in listed waterbodies.
For information about these and other Commission programs, please visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook at and Twitter at @ISWCCommission .  
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Recent appointments can be found on my website here.
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