Small Town News


Education career ladder bill introducted

The Aberdeen Times of Aberdeen, Idaho

- Advertisement -

Wednesday morning, March 4, the House Education Committee introduced a bill that was the subject of part of Governor Butch Otter's education budget proposal to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC). The bill would increase pay for new teachers from $31,750 to $37,000 gradually over five years. Next year, new teachers would make $32,200, a 1.4 percent increase. In my opinion, the increase is too little to attract new teachers, and I had hoped for a much higher increase for new teacher starting pay. Perhaps in future years the starting pay issue can be revisited and increased at a faster rate.

Experienced teachers who have taught for eight years and have an advanced degree would also see greater increases, making as much as $57,750 after meeting performance benchmarks.

Education spending by the state would increase $125.6 million gradually over five years.

This year education is the top priority for the Idaho State Legislature. Education funding takes the largest chunk of Idaho's budget annually, approximately 62 percent. It is pleasing to see Idaho increase the education budget, making an investment in employing and retaining strong, skilled teachers, compensating them more fairly.

Cannabis oil

Senator McKenzie proposed legislation to the State Senate Affairs Committee this week and the committee took testimony on the bill. SB 1106, known as Alexis' Law, allows parents of children suffering from intractable epilepsy to possess cannabidiol (CBD) oil to be used for seizures in their children. Alexis' Law excludes CBD oil from the Idaho Controlled Substances Act. Proponents believe CBD oil will reduce seizures in those suffering from epilepsy.

CBD oil has been used in other states. Alexis' Law is named for a 10 year-old girl living in Idaho who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a form of intractable epilepsy. Some medical professionals expressed concern that the product has not undergone the necessary testing and the effects are not known. Law enforcement expressed concern with the bill as written regarding the impacts on K9 search and seizure and the costs of new testing equipment. Currently, CBD oil is regulated for use in 13 states. This bill was moved to the amending calendar to address the concerns of law enforcement and physicians.

There are pros and cons to this legislation. On one hand, ill children can benefit from DBD. On the other hand, perhaps this is the nose of the camel entering into the tent, or in other words, a step toward legalizing marijuana. I do not support marijuana legalization for recreational use.

JFAC budget setting

The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) should complete setting state budgets by Friday, March 13. Or will we? The last budget to set is the K-12 budget for 2016. Without passage of the career ladder legislation by both legislative bodies, the JFAC committee cannot set the education budget. JFAC may have to postpone setting the JFAC budget until the career ladder legislation passes the legislature.

I have written about some challenging issues in this week's newsletter, and would appreciate your input via email, pro or con, especially on the cannabidoil issue.

Senator Steve Bair is chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee.

Copyright 2015 The Aberdeen Times, Aberdeen, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: March 11, 2015

More from The Aberdeen Times