A Message from Bob

September 17, 2016

Dear Friend,

As the 2016 Legislative session comes to a close, or as it is referred to in the Legislature, Sine Die, I want to keep you updated on our successes this year.

Education funding and policies are a priority and they should be. A well-educated citizenry and a well-educated workforce is and should be the Legislature’s focus. Two particular bills that passed with overwhelming support were House Bill 451 and Senate Bill 1333. HB 451 created a new section of Idaho Code that highlights the importance of collaboration between the home and school in a student’s success in reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. and SB 1333 creates the Broadband Infrastructure Investment Grant Fund (BIIG Fund). The fund will provide opportunities for school districts that need it most to invest in broadband infrastructure.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) legislation and funding has been a priority of mine for the last two years. Four important pieces of legislation that relate to STEM that passed this year are House Bills 357 and 350 and Senate Bills 1279 and 1425. SB 1279 created the STEM Education Fund to support the initiatives and work of the STEM Action Center. The STEM Action Center was created to drive student experience, engagement, industry, alignment and provide Idaho students with competitive employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The STEM Education Fund was appropriated $2 million for Fiscal Year 2017. SB 1425 appropriated $2,421,000 to the STEM Action Center. Last year’s appropriation was $650,000. The STEM Action Center’s executive director is doing a phenomenal job and the private industries are stepping up and working well with the Action Center, as was the plan by the Legislature, to promote STEM activities in education and future economic development. HB 357 added the STEM Education Fund to the education entities for which a taxpayer would qualify for the existing income tax credit for charitable contributions to education-related funds. This will help incentivize individual and corporate donations to support the work of the Idaho STEM Action Center. And HB 379 provides for computer science instruction in public schools and requires the STEM Action Center, the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho State Department of Education to collaborate, develop and implement the initiative.

I hosted four STEM Caucus luncheons this session with Representative DeMordaunt. We brought in nationally-known speakers on the topic of STEM. The Caucuses were very well-attended with legislators from both political parties, government officials and private industry attending. We look forward to continuing the STEM Caucus meetings for a third year, next year.

Besides the Education Committee, I also serve on the Judiciary and Rules Committee – where I am the Vice Chairman- and the Transportation Committee. The Legislature did a lot of work and responded to many constituent concerns.

Thank you for your continued interest in the Idaho legislative process. And, please remember, you can always reach me by email at bnonini@senate.idaho.gov.

God bless Idaho,

Senator Bob Nonini
Bob Nonini