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A Letter to my Constituents



April 11, 2023


Dear Constituent,


It’s been quite a learning experience navigating through my first session serving as your State Senator. While I spent a fair amount of time working to understand the nuances of the legislative process, I’m happy to report that I was still productive in moving forward the causes you sent me to Boise to champion, including personally sponsoring a total of seven bills that were signed into law. The following outlines the successes of the 2023 session and highlights key roles I played in specific areas: 


Education 

As Vice Chair of the Education Committee, I had the honor of sponsoring and supporting important legislation focused on our children’s education. Although one of my top priorities, Universal Education Savings Accounts (S1038), failed to move forward, there was progress made and I was the senate sponsor for the following bills:


  • H163 which significantly expanded Idaho law protecting parental rights in their child’s education.

  • S1015 which closed a loophole where part-time students could be counted, and funded, as full-time.

  • S1125 which was the first comprehensive update to open enrollment in 30 years, allowing parents expanded choice in the public school that best fits their child’s unique needs.


Additional education-related legislation that was passed through my committees & with my support includes:


  • H314a which protects children from obscene content in schools and libraries (State Affairs - Vetoed)

  • H182a which ensures the right to prayer in our public schools (State Affairs)

  • S1100 which requires students to use bathroom/shower facilities of their biological sex (Education)

  • S1042/S1043/H345 which supports and expand Charter Schools (Education)

  • H269/S1070 which expands Career Exploration & Career Technical Education (Education)


Transportation

As a member of the Transportation Committee, I helped ensure that your tax dollars are put to the best use in building and maintaining the roadways and bridges that connect our communities. I sponsored H09 which allowed Commercial Driver’s Licenses to be renewed online which will both help lessen congestion at the DMV and waste less of our commercial drivers’ valuable time. In addition, I sponsored H237 which prioritizes utilization of our precious tax dollars for use on local bridges and highways.


State Affairs

I was honored to be one of the first freshmen ever assigned to the State Affairs Committee that deals with some of the most important, and controversial, legislation that goes through the Senate. As a member of this committee, I sponsored H22a which stops Idaho cities from becoming sanctuaries from state felony law, along with H174a which clarifies that policies of state agencies don’t carry the force and effect of law. Other important legislation that I supported in this committee includes:


HJM2 which calls on Congress to restrict the jurisdiction of federal courts regarding abortion cases.

H98 which prevents the illegal trafficking of minors to procure a criminal abortion.

H295 which prevents tracking of firearms and ammunition purchases through credit card codes.


Property Tax

Reducing property tax, especially for homeowners, was a top priority for myself and many other legislators going into the 2023 session. Through a long process of negotiations, we were able to come into agreement on a solution (H292*) that gives over $350 million in property tax relief to taxpayers. This didn’t lower property taxes to the degree I was hoping for but was certainly a step in the right direction. It also included a fix to the circuit breaker deduction to make sure seniors on fixed incomes are able to stay in their homes.


*Despite being vetoed by Governor Little this important legislation became law after both the House and Senate voted to override the veto.


Protecting Children’s Innocence

A top focus of mine during my campaign and going into my first legislative session was protection of the children in our community. Along with the successful legislation that I helped pass, I also sponsored a bill, S1071, that would have protected our youngest children from radical gender theory and oversexualization. This bill received overwhelming support in the Idaho Senate passing the Senate Education Committee on a 7-2 vote and the Senate Floor on party lines with a veto proof majority 28-7 vote. Unfortunately, like many good bills this session, this bill was drawered in the House Education Committee and never received a hearing. Another important piece of legislation I sponsored was H265 which would have protected minors from exposure to sexual performances. This bill passed the House 48-21 but never received a hearing in Senate State Affairs. I plan to continue work on both important pieces of legislation next session. I would appreciate your prayers and support as I fight for the most innocent and vulnerable in our society.


Despite the long days and significant hurdles, I’m encouraged that we have many good people working in our Capitol and fighting for the rights and conservative values that make Idaho such a great place to live and raise our families. I welcome your input on concerns and issues you would like me to address going forward, so please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send an email. As always, thank you for the trust that you have placed in me to represent you and I pledge to continue to keep your interests, not special interests, as my top priority as I work to serve the great state of Idaho in the coming year.



Sincerely,


Ben Toews

Idaho State Senator – District 4

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