Stephen Snedden

Stephen Snedden
Candidate for: District 1 State Representative, Position A

Age: 35
Years of residence in Sandpoint and Bonner County: 28
Marital status/family: Not married / no kids
Contact information:
    [email protected]
Education: Seattle Pacific University: B.A. Computer Science; Seattle Pacific University: B.A. Political Science; Pepperdine Law: Juris Doctorate

Recent or pertinent employment history

Public offices held:
Sandpoint City Council, 2008-2012

Nonprofit groups, service or professional organizations to which you belong:
Board of Directors, Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce; Board of Directors, Friends of the Pend díOreille Bay Trail; Idaho State Bar

1. Why are you running for public office?
Because I want to see this community succeed. I'm concerned about our local economy and our local students.

2. Describe the top three to five issues you believe are most important; why you believe they are important; and your position on these issues.
A. Economy / Jobs: Too many people are struggling to find adequate jobs.
B. Education: Only 47% of our high-school students are obtaining any training after high school.
C. Clean Water and Public Forests: We need to protect our most important natural resources and keep our forests open to hunting, hiking and timber.

3.  At local candidate forums, many of the candidates have identified the economy and job creation as issues of concern. Do you consider this an important issue for legislators; if so, what specific actions would you advocate or support to improve the economy and jobs?
It is my highest priority. We need to: (1) Lower the income tax rate from 7.4% to 6.9%. (2) Decrease the personal property tax on businesses. (3) Increase vocational training through NIC to match local students with local employers. (4) Reduce regulation by focusing on laws that are simple, necessary and uniform.

4. The state's budget for education was cut back after the recession took hold. The 2014 Legislature approved a $66 million, 5.1-percent funding increase for K-12 public schools this year, yet the budget remains more than $100 million lower than the 2009 budget, and Idaho's per-pupil spending on K-12 schools is second lowest in the country. Do you favor or oppose increased funding for education? If you support increased funding, how should the state pay for it?
I am in favor of increased funding for education provided that it is offset with additional revenue. Idaho currently spends almost half its budget on K-12 education. If you include higher education, the majority of the State budget is spent on education. I am thrilled that education is a priority for Idaho but practically revenue needs to increase in order to spend more on education.

5. In 2009, governors from 48 states undertook to develop a set of shared educational standards called the Common Core Standards. In 2011 the Idaho Legislature adopted the Idaho Core Standards, which schools are implementing this school year. The new standards have been supported by the governor, superintendent of education, business leaders and business groups; but they are opposed by grass roots groups from both ends of the political spectrum. What is your position on the Idaho Core Standards, and why?
I don't support Common Core because it increases the emphasis on standardized testing which weakens the abilities of local teachers to act in their classrooms.

6. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Idahoans signed up at one of the highest per capita rates in the country - with about 50,000 enrollments, second only to Vermont, according to Boise State Public Radio. Although Gov. Otter and most state legislators staunchly opposed the ACA, when it was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court the governor and Legislature authorized a state-run health exchange rather than requiring Idahoans in need of health insurance to use the federal exchange. Do you support or oppose the state insurance exchange, and why?
It's clear that the state exchange is not meeting all of our goals. I will take a close look at the state exchange and if necessary, vote to repeal it.

7. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government encourages expansion of Medicaid benefits in the states and offered to pay up to 90 percent of Idaho's Medicaid costs for those under or near the poverty line. However, Idaho is one of two dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid, resulting in an estimated 55,000 residents unable to get coverage either under Medicaid or the health exchange. Should Idaho expand its Medicaid coverage? If not, do you propose an alternative to provide coverage or health care for this group?
I don't support the expansion. The Medicaid expansion is aimed at that portion of the population that does not qualify for ACA subsidies or Medicaid. Initially, the expansion is paid largely with federal dollars but these decrease each year shifting a heavy burden onto the State.

8. In their most recent session, legislators passed the so-called "ag-gag bill," a new law that makes it a crime to take photos or videos that document any practices in the animal agricultural industry, including animal abuse. The bill was supported by agricultural interests, but is now being challenged by animal welfare groups, proponents of First Amendment rights to free speech, and workers' rights groups who say it prevents farm workers from documenting unsafe conditions. Do you favor or oppose the ag-gag bill, and why?
You should not be able to violate private property rights by sneaking onto farms and filming someone else's property surreptitiously. But what bothers me is that the law makes filming animal cruelty a more severe crime than committing animal cruelty. Itís unusually harsh and I would prefer a more balanced approach.

9. Another new law passed this year was a bill that overrides no-carry gun policies on Idaho's college campuses. The bill to allow the carry of concealed weapons on campus was opposed by all eight state university presidents, plus the state Board of Education. It was favored by gun rightsí groups. What is your position on this issue of guns on campus, and why?
I support the 2nd Amendment and the ability of retired law enforcement to carry concealed on campuses. But I believe in local control. Itís better for schools and universities to decide what happens on their campuses than state officials.

10. What differentiates you from other candidates? Why should people vote for you?
In my race, I am the only candidate with experience. During my four years as a councilman, I dealt with utilities, roads, employees and public budgets. This experience is important when you consider that the State budget is Amendment and the more than $2 billion each year and state legislation affects every individual and business in Idaho. Thatís why I ask for people to vote for me - an experienced, thoughtful and conservative leader.