BY KAREN BOSSICK
Jerome rancher Laurie Lickley got an early exposure to government, growing up as she did on a 120-acre farm south of Salmon. After all, her father was a high school government teacher, while her mother worked for Idaho Power.
She got a degree in agricultural economics at the University of Idaho in 1990 and moved with her husband to a farm bordering the Flying J truck stop north of Twin Falls that his family had homesteaded in 1908.
There, while raising cattle, hay, wheat and beans, she raised two children. Her daughter got married in September; her son just gave her her first grandchild.
But, when the time was right, Lickley got involved in leadership roles, serving as director of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for four years and as a board member of Leadership Idaho Agriculture.
She was at the table, she said, as ranchers tried to secure training and equipment so they could be the first line of defense against rangeland fires.
She was inspired by fellow Jerome Rep. Maxine Bell, who has 15 terms in the Idaho Legislature, to run for a District 25 house seat four years ago. She decided to run for the District 26 seat against Hailey firefighter Ron Taylor when District 26 was reconfigured to include Jerome and Sen. Michelle Stennett decided to retire.
“You have to have responsible, reasonable people at the table who know how to solve problems,” said Lickley, who is finishing up her second term in the House.
In the House Lickley has served as vice-chair of the House Resources and Conservation Committee where, she said, she has advocated for thinning timber on Idaho lands to mitigate the risk of wildfires. That committee also touted better messaging which, she said, resulted in new evacuation warnings put out by law departments, the Forest Service, BLM and Idaho Department of Lands that utilized “Green for “Be Ready to Evacuate”” and Red for “Go Now.”
She was appointed to Idaho’s Behavioral Health Council in 2020, which she says is working on youth assessment centers to divert youth from detention systems. That council is also working to establish youth crisis centers, which will provide youth with help for drug abuse, domestic violence or suicidal thoughts.
The center established the 988 crisis hotline and is examining ways to mitigate the shortage of mental health providers in the state. It’s worked on an interstate agreement to get mental health counseling and is examining ways mental health counselors might take some of the roles that have been relegated to psychiatrists.
Many would say that Lickley’s stint in the legislature gives her an advantage over Ron Taylor. But it also gives voters a voting record to scrutinize.
Some voters received a mailer this past week charging that “Laurie Lickley didn’t just vote yes on Idaho’s deadly total abortion ban…Lickley sponsored it.”
Rep. Sally Toone of Gooding, who is retiring at the end of this year, penned an op-ed column that noted that Lickley had voted for a 2020 bill trigger law that made the act of performing or attempting to perform an abortion a felony.
Lickley also voted for party-line votes that were either batted down in court or are currently in court for being unconstitutional or unenforceable, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, she said. Bills she has voted for include one that would have jailed librarians for checking out a harmful book to a minor, a bill that would have imprisoned parents for life for seeking gender-affirming care for transgender children and a bill allowing a rapist and his family to bring criminal charges against a physician in the cases involving the abortion of the rapist’s child.
Lickley countered that she is pro-life but “reasonable pro-life.” She said she supports abortion in cases where it’s necessary to protect mothers whose lives are in danger or girls who have become pregnant due to incest, she said. And, she said, she supports increased options for contraception.
“I am absolutely not in favor of criminalizing doctors and mothers for abortion,” she said.
Lickley said she supports postponing transgender surgeries until a child is an adult, rather than allowing it in cases of children who “have a feeling” they might be transgender.
Has she cast some votes she wished she could take back?
“Of course, she said.
Among them that vote that would criminalize librarians.
Lickley said she cast the vote knowing that the Senate would reject the bill after seeing how extremists in the legislature crucified a colleague on the House and Education committee for her stand.
“That was a bad vote—one I lost sleep over,” she said. “I grew up in libraries and I realize libraries are used for more than literacy. They’re used for hot spots for teens, telehealth for seniors…. But I was not prepared to risk putting myself and my family through what my friend had gone through.”
Lickley told the Twin Falls Times-News in 2021 that she had reservations about a redistricting process that shifted District 26 from Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties to Blaine, Lincoln and Jerome counties.
“Statutorily, the commission is bound to put together communities of interest,” she said. “Jerome County’s base is really agricultural, and Blaine County’s base is recreation and tourism. I’m having trouble find a common interest there.”
But, she said, she has been trying to establish connections with Blaine County residents this summer.
“I spent a long time developing relationships in the Magic Valley and I’m enjoying doing that here in Blaine County,” she said.
If elected, Lickley said it’s up to her to rebuild the respect and integrity of the Idaho legislature.
“Legislators have lost the ability to be civil and collaborative. It’s going to take a reasonable Republican like myself not tolerating bad behavior,” she said. “I want people to feel safe in the Capitol Building.”
Listen to the article here