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Gov. Brad Little recaps the 2023 legislative session

A man standing in front of a small microphone wearing a light blue shirt, dark blue tie and a grey jacket. His hands are up near his chest.
Otto Kitsinger
In this Jan. 3, 2019 file photo, Idaho Gov.-elect Brad Little answers a reporter's question at the State Capitol building in Boise, Idaho.

Gov. Brad Little acknowledges families of transgender kids may leave Idaho after he signed a bill banning gender-affirming care for those under 18.

The law, which is set to take effect next January barring an expected court challenge by the ACLU of Idaho, makes it a felony for doctors to prescribe puberty blockers or hormones to treat gender dysphoria.

Anyone found violating the statute could face up to 10 years in prison.

“I know it was heart wrenching some of the testimony that was given, but we’ll see how this plays out,” Little said during a press conference with reporters this week.

Puberty blockers and hormone therapy are treatments endorsed by the vast majority of medical and psychological associations in the United States as safe and effective at alleviating gender dysphoria.

That’s something he acknowledged is “generally” correct, though the bill’s sponsors repeatedly cited conflicting industry groups whose members number in the hundreds compared to the hundreds of thousands of those who belong to the American Medical Association, for example.

Those fringe groups include the anti-LGBTQ American College of Pediatricians, which is not affiliated with the mainstream American Academy of Pediatrics.

Instead of these treatments, Little said he hopes extra money going to mental health therapy will help.

“Because if I can identify a mental health problem early with a little bit of resources to a school district or a community or a faith-based group or fill in the blank, I know I can stop a lot of problems later,” he said.

Little said he’s hopeful his veto of the so-called library porn bill, coupled with work by libraries themselves in the coming months to address concerns over inappropriate books will head off similar bills next year.

The effort this past legislative session would’ve let families sue libraries for $2,500 each time their child was allowed to check out “obscene” materials without parental permission.

House lawmakers last year passed a bill that would’ve made it a misdemeanor for librarians to lend these books, examples of which largely feature LGBTQ characters or are sex education materials.

Outside of those hot button issues, Little said he achieved 95% of his priorities. Those include making permanent a tuition grant program for in-demand careers and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on road and bridge maintenance.

A compromise on property tax relief also made his list, which is estimated to cost up to $355 million this year – most of which will go towards paying off school bonds and levies.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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