Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Even a Heap of Snow in the Streets Can’t Keep Muffy From her Appointed Rounds
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Rep. Muffy Davis
 
Monday, January 7, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Muffy Davis envisioned marching into the State Capitol Building in take-charge fashion.

Instead, her first official day on the job as the new representative from District 26 got off to an wrenching start.

After being stuck on the highway for two hours in a blinding snowstorm, she managed to park her vehicle in the 28 inches of snow that had fallen on Boise over the first weekend of December.

 
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Sen. Michelle Stennett
 

But, with what she called the “classic first day jitters,” she was so excited to get to freshman orientation that she wasn’t as careful as she should have been. The front wheel of her wheelchair hit a clump of snow and she went head over wheels, getting a face full of the white stuff.

“I’d probably still be sitting in the streets in the middle of the snow if my fellow representative Sally Toone hadn’t been there,” she said.

Davis trusts that the actual legislative session, which kicks off today, will go more smoothly.

“There are a lot of freshmen going in. I’m hoping to go out with many of them to lunch, get to know them as people,” she said.

Davis, her husband Jeff Burley and their 9-year-old daughter Elle stepped off a Mexican cruise Friday afternoon just in time to get their ball gowns laid out for the inaugural ball feting Brad Little, who had taken the oath of office as Idaho’s 33rd governor earlier in the day.

“Elle can’t wait. She’s all about pomp and circumstance,” said Davis.

Then it’s all about settling into business.

The first order of business was a rules review and Davis found herself jolted when she read Rule 67, which address people with “physical defects,” rather than today’s more politically correct “physical impairments.”

Her colleague Sen. Michelle Stennett has already started addressing some of the archaic language found in rules and regulations.

“We took the word ‘retard’ out a while ago but we have to keep reviewing the language as it changes,” Stennett said. “Now, I’m going through every bit, taking out words that are racist and taking out every reference to slavery or ownership of another person.”

Stennett said one of the legislature’s foremost tasks this year will be figuring out how to fund the Medicaid Expansion that voters approvedin November.

“The Idaho Freedom Foundation brought a lawsuit against it. But, regardless, the people have spoken and it is law,” she said. “We passed a simple no nonsense Medicaid Expansion. Sixty percent of the voters passed it. So legislators are paying attention because of this mandate.”

This year’s legislature will also be under the gun to try to improve the Department of Corrections, which  sends a thousand inmates to Texas because Idaho prisons are busting at the seams. The Department of Corrections wants $500 million to build a new facility without doing anything about why it’s busting at the seams, Stennett said.

“If someone’s caught with small amount of marijuana, do we really want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate them, while rendering them unproductive, rather than enroll them in a good drug program?” she asked

Stennett also warned that many taxpayers may take a major hit on their tax bills this year because no one told them to change their W-4s what with personal and dependent exemptions being eliminated and most itemized deductions being eliminated or capped.

“There’s going to be a lot of outrage,” she predicted. “I’d suggest people go to Idaho State Tax Commission and find out how new tax structure will affect you.”

Stennett praised Blaine County for having the highest voter turnout in the state with 90 percent of registered voters going to the polls. Stennett noted that Democrats gained one seat in Senate, meaning seven of 35 senators are Democrat. They lost one Senate seat by 11 votes but gained three seats in the House.

“We went from 17 percent to 20 percent of the legislature. It doesn’t sound like much but I’ll take every bit of it,” she said.

Some might infer from news accounts that the Democrats and Republicans bicker all the time. But they work together 80 percent of the time and differ only 20 percent of the time, said Stennett.

“I cultivate relationships with the people I work with even if I disagree with them on policy. It’s honest dialogue every time,” she said.

That said, Stennett wishes some of her female Republican colleagues would be offered leadership roles.

“They have some really bright Republican women and they won’t give them chairmanships. These women are working their tails off and they have not been treated well,” she said.

Stennett said Blaine County residents can put themselves in any committee room via PBS livestream.

“But if you can, it’s can be powerful to be there in person,” she said. “The committee is where the real work done. And it’s where citizens can have their say. Once a bill hits the floor, you can be in the gallery. But you can’t say anything.”

Rep. Muffy Davis will serve on the Judiciary, Rules and Administration committee, as well as Transportation & Defense and Health & Welfare. Davis hopes to put out 2- to 5-minute videos every Friday before she comes home for the weekend.

“I’m looking forward most to the day we get Medicaid Expansion up and running,” she said. “That’s why I got into this to begin with.”

Davis hopes to offer 2- to 5-minute videos Fridays before she comes home for the weekend.

Contact her at mdavis@house.idaho.gov or call 208-332-1174.

Rep. Sally Toone serves on the Education committee, Agricultural Affairs and Business.

Contact her at stoone@house.idaho.gov. Or, call 208-332-1032.

Sen. Michelle Stennett is the Idaho State Senate Minority Leader. She serves on the Resources & Environment committee and State Affairs.

Contact her at mstennett@senate.idaho.gov or call 208-332-1353.

 

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