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Feeling the angst: Idaho Senate committee chair balances religious views, ‘hateful’ bills



When it comes to Sen. Martin’s constituents’ problems, he said not one brought up transgender students in high school as one of their concerns.

BOISE, Idaho — Sen. Fred Martin is frustrated.

He sent out surveys to his constituents to see what their top issues were. They returned postcards, pointing to property taxes, education, transportation and the sales tax on groceries.

“Not one constituent, and I’ve got hundreds and hundreds, maybe a thousand of ‘em, not one constituent indicated transgender students in high schools — not one,” he said.

Martin, R-Boise, is the chairman of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee. “I’ve been dealing with this issue for a year and a half,” he said, ever since he was appointed to the chairmanship.

Among his first experiences as chairman, he said, was hearing from the then-director of the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, Russ Barron, that “he is under court order to comply with the judge’s ruling,” requiring Idaho to allow transgender Idahoans to change the gender markers on their birth certificates to match their gender identity.

Barron didn’t want lawmakers to do something that would send him and other H&W employees to prison, Martin said.

Martin, a faithful adherent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, didn’t like the idea of Idaho just letting anyone, including minors, change that gender marker at will, as long as they’ve got parental permission. That’s the current law in Idaho, after the court case.

“I believe that there needs to be an additional step for minors that they’ve got to go through, to think about what they’re doing,” Martin said, adding, “I’ve worked on the suicide prevention board for eight years now. … These adolescents that are not feeling fully a part of society, for one reason or another,” are at increased risk of suicide, he said. “Definitely those that are questioning their sexuality have a greater potential for suicide. This is to get them in to a medical professional.”

RELATED: Nike-sponsored transgender athlete advocates against proposed anti-trans legislation in Idaho

Martin worked with other lawmakers and H&W to craft a rule that would allow the changes, but add a requirement for a medical attestation for minors. That was in effect for about a year, but then the state Board of Health & Welfare discovered that its procedure for adopting that rule was flawed, so the state returned to the status quo: Minors can change their gender marker with parental permission; adults may do so without restriction.

“The status quo is not acceptable to me,” said Martin, who acknowledged that his religious views play into his attitudes on the issue. “Your sex is your sex — to me, that doesn’t really change.”

“I would prefer, in an ideal world, to go back to what we were doing before,” he said, when Idaho didn’t allow such birth certificate changes at all. But he acknowledged, “We don’t live in that world.” The courts have found otherwise.

With House-passed legislation, HB 509, pending in the Senate to directly defy the court order and again forbid birth certificate changes that allow Idahoans to have birth certificates with gender markers that match their gender identity, Martin last week introduced legislation to impose the minors-medical-attestation rule as the new state law.

RELATED: ‘We’re people too’: Transitioning Boise teen hopes lawmakers hear his story before voting on Idaho’s transgender bills

“This is to try to move back a tiny bit from that, and give some of us a better feeling as to what should be done,” he said.

Martin said he didn’t mean his bill to be interpreted as a slap at HB 509, but when he left the committee meeting where he introduced the bill, HB 509’s sponsor, Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, was waiting in the hallway to scold him. He brushed her off.

“Whether or not 509 is passed or not, we still need my bill,” he said. HB 509 would almost certainly be stayed and a court fight would ensue, Martin said; in the meantime, his bill could serve as a “backstop.”

Martin said he liked the administrative rule that was briefly in effect. “It was working,” he said, as the numbers of minors changing their birth certificate markers declined.

Idaho’s seen three bills regarding transgender Idahoans introduced thus far this session, all drawing major opposition and criticism for constitutionally questionable provisions. One, criminalizing medical treatment for transgender youth, died in committee. Two others, HB 509 and HB 500, which seeks to forbid transgender girls or women from playing on women’s teams in high school or college sports, is pending in the Senate; a hearing on HB 500 continues Monday morning in a Senate committee.

Martin feels angst over those proposals. “Some of these bills are just hateful, in my opinion,” he said, “and are not needed.”


On Thursday, well into her second year in office, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin got her first chance to break a tie in the Idaho Senate. McGeachin voted “no” on HB 399, a fairly obscure bill proposed by the Idaho Department of Finance that had drawn a 16-16 tied vote. McGeachin’s vote killed the House-passed bill.

The bill proposed to allow collection agencies to collect incidental charges incurred in the contract between the creditor and the debtor, while also reducing some licensing and reporting requirements for collection agents, debt counselors, credit counselors and credit repair entities. It was estimated to result in a $250,000 a year loss to the state due to the decrease in reporting requirements and associated fees.

McGeachin declined an interview request about her tie-breaking vote. HB 399 passed the House, 42-27, on Feb. 14.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

More from our partners at the Idaho Press: What does the Latino vote look like in Idaho?

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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