Brothers and Sisters,
The first nine days of session came and went with relatively little activity we would be concerned with. Then came this Friday. I stated in a previous update that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Senator McKague run the same legislation that she ran last year. As you recall, she ran a bill that would not only repeal our bargaining rights, but would make it illegal for an employer (of any governmental employee) to bargain with their employees collectively. In other words, even if your city or fire district really likes you and would gladly bargain with you voluntarily, they would not be allowed to. Well, she got this bill printed as a “personal bill” on Friday.
Although concerning, please do not hit the panic button. As a personal bill, it got printed with no vetting, meaning only one person had to be supportive of the idea – the sponsor. I’m sure there’s plenty of other legislators that would get behind this idea, but we also know of a good number (and some pretty influential ones) that are opposed to this legislation. I believe there is a good chance that the legislation could go away with little fanfare. We are working very hard on our end to see that this happens. If we cannot get it stopped quietly we will need a robust grassroots effort by all of you. Please do not take any action on your own in the meantime. Some actions taken independently and unilaterally could actually undermine the work we are doing at the Statehouse that remains unseen. Please be prepared to act when called upon, but wait until we contact you and give you specifics regarding what we need. Hopefully you will never receive our call. We should have a clear idea of what path we need to take by Wednesday.
On a more positive note, we continue to work on our presumptive illness legislation and are still making headway. There is not a lot to report, except that our focus now is to get the support of the Idaho Association of Cities. With the Idaho Fire Chiefs Association and several medical doctors behind us, we have the makings of a decent coalition to push this effort forward. Gaining the Cities’ and the Fire District Commissioner’s support would be a huge benefit. I’ll keep you posted as things develop.
Other than this there are not a lot of other bills we are worried about. We are watching for some other legislation to come through, but overall, it has been fairly quiet.
Please contact me with any Questions or comments.
Professional Firefighters of Idaho
Executive Vice President