The 2017 Idaho Legislative Session ended on March 29, 2017. And what a crazy session it was, down to the last hours!
We have been working for over a year on the Safe Routes to School issue, educating officials and others on the need and benefits of safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists. We spent a large portion of our Legislative Session trying to move a bill through the Statehouse.
After much work to get bill language just right, our Safe Routes to School Bill (Senate Bill 1121) moved through the Senate Committee and passed the Senate floor with strong support. However, when the bill was referred to the House Transportation Committee, despite all efforts we could not get a hearing for the bill.
Just when we thought it was a very disappointing end to our efforts, new developments allowed us a second chance to get the Safe Routes to School program as part of a larger transportation package being negotiated. With some quick last minute work, and very helpful partners and supporters, SB 1206 and HB 334 together opened up new funding opportunities that are available to fund Safe Routes to School programs and projects! It is a huge win after the exhausting efforts of so many who want to help improve the health and safety of Idaho children. HB 334 was literally the last bill of the session to be voted on!
It was a very busy session, with many other smaller pieces of legislation, rulemaking, and negotiations going on every day. The AHA/ASA made a significant impact on changing the way we are talking about health, and how it impacts so many other areas - transportation, education, economic development, etc. This momentum will help grow conversations on the local level and help everyone think about what we can do as advocates to help Legislators see the issue of health as an essential piece to Idaho’s future success.
I cannot thank you, our advocates, enough for your help this session. Your timely responses to action alerts, phone calls to legislators, attendance at Heart at the Capitol and letters to lawmakers were critical to passing this legislation.
Next year, I’m looking forward to working with you again as we pursue other health oriented policies like closing the access to healthcare gap in our state and raising the tobacco minimum purchase age to 21.