By Bryan Clark Post Register
Incumbent Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, faces a primary challenge from the right this year. Julianne Young, a Blackfoot stay-at-home mother, is challenging VanOrden for the District 31B House seat.
District 31 encompasses Bingham County. VanOrden, who serves as chairwoman of the House Education Committee, said sheâ€™s running to continue â€śmaking a differenceâ€ť in Idahoâ€™s education policy.
â€śI still have some legislation that needs to be run,â€ť VanOrden said. â€śI donâ€™t think weâ€™ve fully implemented all of the governorâ€™s task force recommendations.â€ť
Young said she was motivated by concerns over proposed changes to the stateâ€™s sex education system, which she said would have harmed parental rights.
â€śThere were some concerns of Bingham County residents that were not being heard,â€ť Young said. â€śI am a person who for a long time has championed more grassroots actions.â€ť
VanOrden says that sex education bill was meant to address technical legal problems in the stateâ€™s current sex education law. She said sheâ€™s proud of recent work to increase teacher pay through the career ladder, which has resulted in reduced turnover rates in Idaho schools.
â€śWeâ€™ve made some good changes, and weâ€™ve been able to increase teacher pay,â€ť she said. â€śWe want to be able to produce good, educated workers.â€ť
VanOrden said she was also proud to launch a pilot program that allows residents living far from Boise to give remote testimony on bills coming before the Legislature. Young said she is concerned that there is excess â€śbureaucratic wasteâ€ť in the stateâ€™s education system.
She pointed to recent funding for an investigation of the stateâ€™s teacher evaluation system, which she characterized as â€śan evaluation of the evaluationsâ€ť as such an example. â€śWhat a waste,â€ť she said.
Young said she opposes Medicaid expansion because she worries it could cost the state more than expected.
â€śStates that have expanded (Medicaid) are facing a financial disaster,â€ť she said.
She said she would support measures such as allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines and allowing the sale of plans that donâ€™t comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.
VanOrden said she thought the Legislature was close to finding a solution for the Medicaid gap population â€” families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies â€” with this yearâ€™s proposed â€śdual waiverâ€ť program, which was killed without a floor vote in the House.
With small changes, she thinks a similar policy could be enacted next session.
â€śI think we were close this year,â€ť she said.
On tax policy, VanOrden said she previously opposed repeal of the sales tax on groceries, fearing that it could endanger state public school budgets.
But she supported a large income tax cut that passed this year. She said she favors a wide variety of tax cuts, so long as they donâ€™t put the school system at risk.
Young said she supports repealing the grocery tax, but agreed that its impact on state budgets has to be examined closely.
â€śI am a proponent for cutting taxes any time you can, but of course we have responsibilities,â€ť she said.
No Democrat has filed in the race, so the Republican primary is likely to determine the final outcome of the race.