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Our View: Cheers and Jeers to Rep. Hartgen, losing federal money and the Twin Falls airport
OUR VIEW

Our View: Cheers and Jeers to Rep. Hartgen, losing federal money and the Twin Falls airport

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Cheer

Cheers to Rep. Linda Hartgen for listening to her constituents — all of them. Hartgen, a Twin Falls Republican in her second year as a lawmaker, was one of two in her party to vote no Thursday on a bill that would ban Idahoans from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate.

The House approved the bill 53-16 that would prevent transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificate to match their identity. The bill defies a 2018 federal court order that ruled Idaho’s previous ban on changing birth certificates unconstitutional.

Since the ban was lifted, about 150 people applied for the change, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“I listened to many people give their stories in committee on why they needed their own stats to match their gender marker,” Hartgen said. “Their stories were very compelling to me.

“My job is to protect all of the people in my district and the state of Idaho, not just people who look like me.”

We’re glad to see Hartgen listening to testimony and her heart on this controversial bill. It wasn’t an easy vote, but having courage is rarely easy.

Jeer

Jeers to the Idaho Senate on potentially losing the state nearly $1 million in federal funding.

The Senate voted 10-22 in opposition to a bill that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco in Idaho from 18 to 21. This bill would have put the state in line with federal law. President Donald Trump and the Food and Drug Administration approved raising the federal minimum age in December, making it illegal for retailers to sell tobacco products to anyone under 21.

Now all states must update their laws to enforce the new regulations and 19 have done so.

Boise Republican Sen. Fred Martin described the bill as “housekeeping” that would simply align Idaho with the federal government. If a person makes it to their 21st birthday without becoming addicted to tobacco, they are more likely to live their life tobacco-free.

“Raising the age to 21 will save both lives and money for Idahoans,” Martin said.

Alacia Handy of the Department of Health and Welfare said Idaho would be in “direct noncompliance with federal law” if the change is not made. The state could lose up to 10% of an $8.5 million federal grant for state substance abuse programs if the minimum age is not raised, Handy said.

Cheer

Cheers to Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport for winning a $900,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant that could lead to a new flight to Denver.

“It’s a good day,” Airport Manager Bill Carberry said. “We’re excited.”

Twin Falls was one of 18 cities to win a Small Community Air Service Development Program this year. The airport submitted its application in July. Sixty communities competed for the $12 million available.

The grant doesn’t guarantee Twin Falls will add a Denver flight. It’s also unclear when a new flight would be offered. But the funding gives the airport the ability to start working with SkyWest — which would service the flight for United Airlines — on scheduling a route.

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