From Interim DHW Director Dean Cameron: The legislative process has taught me much about collaboration

January 12, 2024
Interim DHW Director Dean Cameron

The Idaho Legislature convened on Monday, Jan. 8, marking the start of this year’s session. It’s an exciting time in Idaho as lawmakers from around the state travel to Boise to set policy and establish a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

In the coming weeks, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) will present budgets for its eight divisions, which provide services to more than 451,000 Idahoans with the purpose of helping those less fortunate, protecting our children and challenged adults, and promoting resiliency. We’re grateful to policy makers for recognizing and supporting those efforts.

As someone who’s spent 25 years working in the Idaho Senate and 10 years as director of the Idaho Department of Insurance, I want to take a few minutes to share what I’ve learned about the legislative process over the years.

First, the men and women who serve Idaho at the state Capitol have my utmost respect. Being called to serve is a profound experience and draws people who have dedicated themselves to a cause greater than personal aspirations. I believe this calling comes from a deep-seated desire to contribute to the well-being of others and to make a positive impact on society. 

From the outside looking in, it’s easy for people to say the Legislature should just do what’s right. The problem is, what’s right for one person or community might not be right for another, and we have to respect those differences while acknowledging that our lawmakers are doing what they understand to be right for the majority of Idahoans. 

I was 30 when I was first appointed to the Legislature in 1991. At the time the Senate was equally divided between the two major parties, and no bill got out of committee unless you could work across the aisle. I learned from the very beginning the importance of collaboration to find solutions that worked for everyone.

The process isn’t always pretty. I’ve heard it compared with sausage making and have found it can sometimes take years to put together a recipe that works. Yet my time in the Legislature reinforced my fundamental belief that by working together we can find solutions.

Like the Legislature, I believe that all branches of Idaho government, including DHW, are filled with good, hard-working, well-intentioned people who do their best for the interests of the state. And as public servants, we all share a common goal: to serve honestly and in the public’s interest.

I look forward to working with lawmakers, DHW staff, and other agencies this winter as we collaborate to improve the services DHW provides Idahoans.

DHW is here to serve you. Have a great weekend.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

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