As a retired pediatrician as well as a former Minority House Leader, I felt that the 2022 Idaho Legislative session was a mixed bag for children and their families. 

        I am on the Advisory Board for Idaho Children Are Primary (ICAP), a bi-partisan organization which rates and tracks legislative bills. The Board includes former First Lady Patricia Kempthorne, nationally recognized educator Cindy Wilson and pediatricians from across the state. Our goal is to give Idahoans a view of how their elected representatives perform in helping Idaho’s youngest citizens, and in their constitutional duties with regards to kids. ICAP rated twenty-three bills that were introduced this session. Some of those bills we believe could help children’s health, education or well-being, and others that could cause significant harm.

        We then tracked how each legislator voted on those bills. The Kids Matter Index or KMI shows the results of that tracking by creating individual scorecards. Voters can look up how much their legislator cared about children’s well-being by visiting www.idahochildrenareprimary.org.

        Overall, sixty percent of legislators scored eighty percent or better on the KMI, which is a better performance than last year’s numbers. Ninety percent of the Senate scored above eighty percent, while less than half (forty-seven percent) of the House members did so. Thirty Idaho legislators (twenty-nine percent of the two chambers) scored one hundred percent in agreement with the KMI. More than half of Republican legislators overall scored better than eighty percent, but only thirty-six percent of GOP House members hit the eighty percent mark.

        No Senators scored below fifty percent while twenty-one of the seventy House members failed to vote with kids even half of the time.

        Fourteen of the sixteen bills supported by ICAP passed, and five of them passed unanimously. Both bills that ICAP opposed failed to become law.

        The organization Idaho Children Are Primary appreciates the time and consideration of the Senators and Representatives who served this session to represent the interests of their constituents, especially those who kept Idaho kids and families foremost in their thoughts and deliberations. Idaho is one of the youngest states in the nation; are we as parents and legislators caring for our kids? The Kids Matter Index reminds voters as we prepare for the primary and general elections of how their legislators voted this last session, and prepares them to ask incumbents and challenger candidates an important question: “Are your policies good for Idaho kids?” Let’s remind our politicians running for office this May and November that children’s interests will always be a “hot button” topic for Idahoans.

 

John Rusche, MD, Former House Minority Leader, Pediatrician

ICAP Board members:

Patricia Kempthorne, Chair of Parents as Teachers, former Idaho First Lady, Boise

John Rusche, MD, Former Idaho Legislator, retired Pediatrician, Lewiston

Alicia Lachiondo, MD Pediatrician, Spokesperson for Get Immunized Idaho, Boise

Cristina Leon, DO, Pediatric Cardiologist, Pocatello

Chris Streeter, MD, Children’s Center for Neurobehavioral Medicine, Boise

Cindy Wilson, Nationally Recognized Educator, Meridian

Staci Darmody, Masters in Theological Studies, Boise