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Viewpoint: Lt. Gov. Bedke on his new role and big issues in Idaho

Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke discusses his approach to his new office, the threat of fentanyl, public school funding, the impact of the state's anti-abortion law and more.

BOISE, Idaho — He's a long-time, familiar face in Idaho politics and government, who is now serving in a brand-new role. He's a cattle rancher and fourth generation Idahoan whose great grandfather homesteaded in the Oakley area back in the 1870's.

Republican Scott Bedke, of Oakley, served 11 terms as a state representative after first being elected in 2000. In 2012, his colleagues in the House elected him Speaker of the House. He served in the role for 11 years, making him the longest-serving speaker in Idaho History.

In 2022, Bedke ran for Idaho Lieutenant Governor and won. He's now in the first year of his first term in which he just wrapped up his first legislative session where he presided over an Idaho Senate that passed major legislation on public education, property tax reform and social issues. That includes a law banning transgender and transitioning children, or children with gender dysphoria, from receiving any type of hormones, puberty blockers or surgeries.

Lawmakers also passed legislation on projects to protect Idaho's water supply, an issue Lt. Gov. Bedke is very passionate about.

On the personal side, he and his wife of 43 years, Sarah, have four children and 16 grandchildren.

On this edition of Viewpoint, the lieutenant governor discusses his approach to his new role, public school funding, property tax relief, the impact of Idaho's strict anti-abortion law and the fight against the threat of the dangerous drug fentanyl.

Gov. Brad Little announced he is getting ready to go to the Texas-Mexico border soon. He will deploy a team from Idaho State Police that will help the state of Texas on a month-long mission for drug and fentanyl interdiction.

According to the governor's office, from 2020 to 2021, the rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths doubled in Idaho. In 2022, Gov. Little launched "Operation Esto Perpetua" – a new strategy to do more to protect Idaho communities against the growing drug threat. As part of his "Idaho First Plan," Governor Little called for the development of a new statewide drug interdiction team at the Idaho State Police and enhanced testing and training.

Lieutenant Governor Bedke said public safety is paramount, and the administration is concerned about the influx of fentanyl into Idaho communities.

"It's everywhere. It's in every community. It's so dangerous that we've got to be on top of that. Most all of that is coming up through the Mexican border on the south," Bedke said. "I don't know that this is about boots on the ground and patrols and things like that. I think it's more about learning to interdict because this is going to take all of our best efforts. So, this last session we beefed up the budgets to law enforcement including the public defenders, and we're going to attack this on all fronts, but it's important for everyone to know we're not going to arrest our way out of this. It's going to take education and interdiction as well as prosecution."

You can watch the full interview by clicking above. Viewpoint airs Sunday at 9 a.m. on KTVB Idaho's NewsChannel 7.

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