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Senator’s taxpayer-funded letter to prospective new district raises eyebrows

Kris Sabo of Sagle was surprised when an official state-funded letter arrived in the mail from Idaho Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, talking about Nuxoll's record and thanking supporters as she seeks re-election. “My gosh, she's from Cottonwood – where the heck is that?” Sabo asked. “If she's using our money to help her campaign to keep her job, that shows disrespect for our money. Nobody's going to pay for me to go out and try to keep my job.”

Sabo currently is in Idaho's legislative District 2, one of the North Idaho Panhandle legislative districts. But redistricting in Idaho will put her in the new District 7 next year, which stretches from southeastern Bonner County all the way south to the Valley County line at the mid-section of the state; Cottonwood is nearly a four-hour drive south of Sagle.

Though state senators can send out taxpayer-funded mailings, up to a $2,000 annual limit, this one's raising eyebrows because Nuxoll sent it to about 1,700 Republicans not only in her current district, but also in the new district she'd represent if she wins another term. “I just approached it as informing people. This is an informational letter,” Nuxoll said. “There might have been one negative comment.” She added that she sent it just to Republicans “because I am a Republican and I had to limit the number of letters going out to keep under my limit by the state.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, says he wishes he'd addressed the old district/new district issue with senators, but since it only comes up every 10 years – when new legislative districts take effect – no one thought of it. “We probably should have discussed it and maybe even got some kind of ruling from the Attorney General's office,” Hill said. “We did not do that.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and click below for the full text of Nuxoll's letter.
  


March 29, 2012

Dear Citizens of District 8 and new District 7:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the Idaho State Senate—what an honor to represent District 8 in Boise!

Thank you to those who communicated your thoughts, concerns, and opinions on various issues and bills presented to the State Senate because your phone calls, e-mails, and letters are truly appreciated as I deliberate and debate prior to voting. My goal is to protect traditional family values, to support less government intrusion in our lives, and reduce taxes with our strained economy. Count on my commitment to my motto “less government, more opportunity”!

With the privilege of serving on the Agricultural Affairs, Judiciary and Rules, and Health and Welfare committees, I have asked hard questions and worked relentlessly to seek common sense solutions to the issues in these committees. Earlier this year I was named an Idaho Ag All Star Legislator by the Food Producers of Idaho for my 2011 voting record on key agricultural issues.

I am proud to live in Idaho, where our State Constitution requires that the legislature balance the budget annually. This year, I have worked for tax cuts, job creation, and transfer of funds for local land management from the federal government.

BOOSTING ECONOMIC GROWTH AND TAX CUT BILLS THAT I CO-SPONSORED:

H 563, TAX RELIEF BILL, proposes to cut $35.7 Million in taxes. This proposal would reduce individual tax rates to 7.4 percent and corporate taxes to 7.4 percent.

SJM 103, THE “COMMUNITY FOREST TRUST PILOT PROGRAM, calls on Congress to consider alternative funding for the federal Secure Rural School and County Self-Determination Act (SRS). This pilot program, created by Shoshone, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho, and Valley Counties, will transfer management of public lands from the federal government to the Idaho Department of Lands, permitting local control of forests for local benefit.

After working hard to block the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Idaho last year, I continued fighting the ongoing federal Health and Human Services mandates associated with this law.

FEDERAL CONTROL BILLS THAT I CO-SPONSORED:

SJM 104, HHS Mandate, The Conscience Rights Bill, was proposed to Congress opposing the new federal requirements that we pay for health insurance that covers abortion inducing drugs. These federal mandates violate religious and conscience rights guaranteed in the First Amendment. This memorial is a clear protest to Congress from Idaho’s Legislature that it opposes the Affordable Care Act.

HJR 2, The Right To Hunt, Fish, and Trap, guarantees our right to hunt, fish, and trap with traditional methods in Idaho. There was no new legislation controlling wolves.

EDUCATION SUPPORT BILLS THAT I CO-SPONSORED

Always a strong advocate for the best education system for our youth with more local control, I supported last year’s education reform laws that recognized the need to improve quality in innovative ways with fewer resources. Last year’s budget cuts to education last year have been felt deeply in the rural school districts within Legislative District 8. With a mild budget surplus, the Legislature was able to backfill teacher pay while fully-funding components of last year’s education reform laws, including the technology upgrades in our classrooms and the teachers’ pay-for-performance. Pay-for-performance will allow 85% of Idaho’s teachers to receive additional compensation.

H 662, The Youth Challenge Program, in Pierce, is a program operated and maintained by the National Guard to train and mentor youth drop-outs, ages 16 through 18, to become productive citizens. Youth Challenge, also in 26 other states, has a 95% success rate. The Youth Challenge Program will provide 50 to 60 more jobs and is 75 percent federally funded.

LIFE AND HEALTH PROTECTION BILLS THAT I CO-SPONSORED:

S 1348, The Patient Protection Bill, provides for clarification on end of life decisions. This bill ensures that a patient’s decisions concerning treatment will not be ignored by medical providers who disagree with the patient’s decisions to continue life sustaining treatment, food, and water.

S 1387, The Ultrasound Bill, A woman’s right to view and a child’s right to be seen, is a woman’s right to informed decisions will be brought back next year due to the misconceptions, complexity of this issue, and the lack of time left in the session.  Abortion providers would be required to provide women with an ultrasound so they know what a choice for life or an abortion means. Women cannot make a fully informed decision if they are kept in the dark about reality of the child in their womb.   Only educated people can make good free choices.

SCR 131, Rural Emergency Medical Service (EMS), helps volunteer EMS organizations who are struggling to retain their volunteers, some of the most valuable members of rural Idaho communities. Rural communities depend on EMS for the well-being and safety of their citizens. In Idaho, Lewis, Clearwater, and Latah counties alone, $5.2 Million would be needed to employ their EMS volunteers. Health and Welfare is asked to conduct outreach town hall meetings to understand the challenges that hinder recruitment and retention of volunteer EMS.

I want to thank those who have supported me as I seek re-election for State Senator in the next term for the new District 7. With my experience in the Senate, I hope to continue as a common-sensed, conservative business Senator, with a heart for rural and small communities, a love for life and family, and faith in our Constitutional rights derived from God.

Patrick Henry said, “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battle with us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” With hope in our God, let us be the vigilant, the active, the brave!!

Sincerely,

Senator Sheryl Nuxoll


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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