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Lawmakers hold Town Hall with voters, lingering questions remain

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - It was a packed town hall meeting in Idaho Falls Thursday.

Bonneville County lawmakers, already under fire from local Republican committees, answered written questions from area voters. The topics ranged from teacher shortages to controversial library materials.

"I don't support porn in the library; however, I did not support bill 314, the library bill," said Stephanie Mickelsen (R- Idaho Falls). "I was very specific about that because we are punishing librarians that are standing at the counter checking out books."

The constituents we spoke to said there were questions left unanswered.

"The legislators answered the questions that they were asked fairly well, but I don't think that they're asking the main questions that people came here to find out about - why they're being recalled or sanctioned by the Republican Party," said attendee Mark Mikesell.

Special investigative committees have been formed by Republicans in Legislative Districts 32 and 33. They are calling on the lawmakers to answer for alleged violations of the State Republican Party platform. The first round of committee hearings were held December 5.

While there's a myriad of accusations, some specific issues include Representative Wendy Horman's voting for House Bill 138 in the 2023 Legislative session, which to consolidated the March Presidential Primary election with the May Primary election.

"It was six days after I voted that I received an email saying the state opposed that bill. I didn't know about it at the time," Horman said.

One of special investigative committee complaints against Senator Kevin Cook (R - Idaho Falls) was his vote for the Idaho Launch grants, which provide up to $8,000 to graduating Idaho high school students going into certain fields.

"I am excited about the Launch program," Cook said. "I think you'll see some great things come out of it."

Three more legislators, this time from District 33, are having their records questioned by another special investigative committee. Two of them, Marco Erickson (R-Idaho Falls) and Dave Lent (R - Idaho Falls) were at Thursday's meeting.

The often standing room only meeting resonated well with attendees, with attendee Ron Shurtelff saying he'd, "like to see this happen on a regular basis."

The legislators appreciated the large turnout as well.

"The fact that each of you have come here tonight tells me you care, or you wouldn't come out here on a cold and windy night," Representative Horman said.

Still, some lingering questions remain.

"It's great to see the turnout here and so many people show up. There has been a little movement on reducing taxes, but unfortunately, we didn't get to hear about how the Idaho budget has grown so much under a supposedly conservative legislature," said Ron Nate, a former state representative for Bonneville County.

"Granted, everybody didn't have an opportunity to express their [questions] but at least we were able to hear some of where they are and their challenges," Ron Shurtleff said.

"I would like to have some more answers about what specific bills they voted on to get them in the hot water that they're in," said attendee Mark Mikesell, referring to the special investigative committees formed by Republicans in Legislative Distrcits 32 and 33.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Politics

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Stephanie Lucas


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