Monday will start the first regular session of the sixty-seventh Idaho Legislature. Lawmakers and state agency personnel have been gearing-up for a full session. I have enjoyed meeting with the chairs of the Health and Welfare committees in the House and Senate to get to know them a little better before session begins. I am looking forward to working with leadership in these committees on initiatives that will strengthen the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans.
DHW personnel also have been busy responding to legislators’ inquiries and preparing information to help inform decision-making once the session begins and bills are introduced.
Ultimately, legislators, not agencies, are responsible for setting policy and direction. State agencies have a role on the front and back ends of the process. On the front end, the role of state agencies is to provide accurate, timely information to legislators to help inform their decisions. Then, after the votes are taken and decisions are finalized, the role of state agencies on the back end is to implement those decisions.
One of the most important things the Idaho Legislature does is set the budgets for all the state agencies. It’s a big job – the 20 members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) have a steep learning curve as they prepare for, listen to, and consider presentations about all the programs and services the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) and other state agencies provide for Idahoans so they can make budget recommendations to the House and Senate.
To effectively provide services for Idahoans with complex social, economic, and health issues, DHW is organized into eight divisions, with 11 budgets, that support the work we do every day to help strengthen the health, safety, and independence of all Idahoans.
On Jan. 17 and 18, I will present an overview and the department’s budgets to JFAC. Here’s the department’s JFAC schedule. You can watch and listen online at Idaho in Session.
Tuesday. Jan. 17:
- 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. -- Department of Health & Welfare (Director’s overview)
- 8:45 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. Child Welfare
- 9:10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Services for Developmentally Disabled
- 9:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Break
- 9:45 a.m. to 10:05 a.m. Service Integration
- 10:05 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Division of Welfare
- 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Division of Medicaid
Wednesday, Jan. 18:
- 8 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. Public Health Services
- 8:20 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. Domestic Violence Council
- 8:40 a.m. to 9 a.m. Developmental Disabilities Council
- 9 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Indirect Support Services
- 9:20 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. Break
- 9:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. Licensing & Certification
- 10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Substance Abuse Services
- 10:20 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Mental Health Services
- 10:40 a.m. to 11 a.m. Psychiatric Hospitalizations
The House Health and Welfare Committee meets daily at 9 a.m., and the Senate Health and Welfare Committee meets Mondays through Thursdays at 3 p.m. Topics that directly relate to Health and Welfare are commonly introduced in these committees. Those meetings also can be watched at Idaho in Session.
I am looking forward to a successful session and to working with the legislators. Together, we share a passion and commitment to the people of Idaho.
I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend!
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.
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