A new chapter in the saga of Idaho's Medicaid expansion struggle closed when Gov. Brad Little signed Senate Bill 1204aa, the so-called Medicaid "sideboards" bill, into law April 9. The bill is an amended version of Medicaid expansion as passed by voters last November, notably adding work requirements for eligibility. In an opinion published by The Idaho Press, former Idaho Department of Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong wrote that the bill "snubs more than 12 hours of public testimony overwhelmingly opposing harmful barriers to coverage" and "ignores a late-February poll that found that 74% of Idahoans feel the Legislature should implement the law as it was passed by the voters, while only 17% say the law should be changed." Supporters of the bill see it as a fiscally responsible alternative to full expansion.
City of Boise
Medicaid wasn't the only issue to cross Little's desk Tuesday. The governor also signed into law House Bill 217, a divisive bill restricting the power of urban renewal agencies. Starting Monday, July 1, urban renewal projects costing over $1 million and pulling the majority of their funding from public coffers will need to pass a public vote with a 60% supermajority in order to go forward. The legislation specifically sites both sports complexes and libraries, and has been viewed by City of Boise officials, who spoke out against the bill, as an attack on the city's development plans.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a public health emergency due to an outbreak of measles in the city, and even went so far as to mandate vaccinations in the areas of Brooklyn worst affected. Adults refusing to be vaccinated themselves or to vaccinate their children could face up to $1,000 in fines. The New York Times reports that although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory vaccinations legal in the past, the new mandate has raised questions about what will be done if citizens continue to refuse vaccinations.
A WalletHub study has named Idaho the U.S. state "Most Dependent on the Gun Industry" for 2019, ranking the Gem State first in firearms-industry jobs per capita,
total firearms industry output per capita, NICS background checks per capita and gun-control contributions to congressional members per capita, and within the top five on three other metrics. Alaska ranked second overall, followed by South Dakota, Wyoming and Arkansas.
Though there looks to be a break in the rainy weather today for Boise, the persistent downpour combined with spring runoff has triggered flooding in parts of the Gem State. On April 9, the Idaho National Guard and Boise Fire Department teamed up to rescue five people from flooded homes near Grangeville. Boise Fire officials wrote in a press release that two of the victims had to be airlifted to safety, while the other three were able to walk away under their own power.
On a lighter note, we have some good news for Trekkies: AtmosFX has unveiled what it's calling the first-ever digital Star Trek decoration, a brand-new window into the sci-fi universe. The new tech "beams in" characters and scenes to fans' home TV screens, walls or windows. The "Captain Bundle" costs $240, and includes the full digital decorating kit, a high-definition projector, 16 seasonal digital decorations and more.