Hard-fought wins overshadowed by growing extremism in 2024 session

By Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
Reader Contributor

People deserve a government that works for them. The 2024 Idaho legislative session saw both triumphs and setbacks for the people of Idaho. The positive outcomes were often made possible because of Democratic support. Despite these hard-fought wins, the session was marked by setbacks for our freedoms and well-being. 

One notable win this year came from funding LAUNCH scholarships for in-demand careers. We know thousands of high school seniors are counting on this support to make their post-graduation plans into reality. The business community is likewise counting on LAUNCH to fill critical workforce gaps. Unanimous Democratic support was able to overcome opposition from a majority of Republicans. Making good on our promise to the next generation was a relief. 

Rep. Lauren Necochea. File photo.

Senate Democratic Leader Melissa Wintrow sponsored legislation to expand birth control access that passed by a single vote in the House. House Democratic Leader Ilana Rubel brought legislation to legalize fentanyl testing strips to curb accidental overdoses. Sen. Ali Rabe successfully passed bills to help renters get a fresh start and ensure homeless youth can receive services. 

Democrats were pivotal in blocking harmful GOP proposals, like attempts to terminate Medicaid expansion and take health care away from tens of thousands of Idahoans. Democratic votes made the difference to stop a voucher scheme that siphons dollars away from public schools for private school subsidies. Democratic votes stopped a bill that would have weakened our domestic terrorism statute, which was enacted when the Aryan Nations terrorized our state. And we stopped legislation that would give pesticide manufacturers, including foreign-owned corporations, immunity if their products harmed Idahoans.

Nevertheless, significant setbacks were enacted that demonstrated a lack of care for the people of Idaho. 

While Idahoans overwhelmingly trust their local librarians to decide which books are on the shelves, Gov. Little signed a book bounty into law that puts libraries at risk of costly lawsuits. Voting rights were compromised with legislation making delivering a neighbor’s ballot illegal. Similarly, new restrictive requirements on ballot initiatives will disenfranchise voters and stifle grassroots democracy. Republican lawmakers pushed discriminatory legislation attacking LGTBQ+ Idahoans, threatening their safety and dignity. Senate Republicans even callously blocked summer food assistance for needy kids. 

Also of grave concern is the lack of action to restore reproductive freedoms. The extreme GOP abortion ban criminalizes health care providers and puts women at risk during medical emergencies. Republican leaders continue to ignore the pleas from impacted patients and the warnings of the looming crisis as OB-GYNs and maternal-fetal medicine specialists leave the state. 

Amid these challenges, Idaho Democrats remain steadfast in our commitment to make life better for Idahoans. We stand ready to defend democracy, protect fundamental freedoms and build a brighter future for our state.

Rep. Lauren Necochea is the House assistant Democratic leader, representing District 19 in Boise on the Environment, Energy and Technology; Resources and Conservation; Revenue and Taxation; and Ways and Means committees.

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