Nate Roberts

On the issues

Workers’ Rights

Working in Idaho

Idaho’s workforce is the driving force of our state economy. Workers’ deserve the dignity and respect that comes along with this status. We must improve protections for workers’ wages, conditions and safety.


Wage theft is the number one form of theft in our nation1 and Idaho is not different.2 This comes in many forms, requiring employees to work while “off the clock”, unpaid mandatory meetings, not paying overtime or paying ‘comp-time’ for overtime hours worked. Withholding tips from tipped workers. All of these are considered wage theft and is an indignity forced upon workers.


The conditions in which we labor is a vital part of dignity of work. When workers are forced to work in environments that are too hot or cold, toxic, or hazardous, they deserve to be protected from the effects of these conditions.

Breaks, such as mealtimes are required by law but many workers do not have a set time or length of time to be able to eat, rest or even use the restroom.


A recent building collapse in Boise where three workers were killed and nine others were injured3, demonstrates the need for diligence for on the job safety. We must provide protections for workers to be able to maintain their own safety along with their fellow workers. They must have the right to refuse to work unsafely without retaliation. While this issue has federal protection, too many workers feel that this is not enough, and I agree.

Workers Compensation

Even though individuals may be working in a safe manner, there are outside influences that may still cause injuries. When a worker is injured on the job workers compensation insurance covers the costs of needed healthcare and lost wages.4 I have experienced an on the job injury and I can tell you, it is not an easy process to go through. I believe that if you are injured while working for a company you deserve the dignity of full compensation while not having to engage in the legal process. We can find ways to improve workers compensation.

Child Labor Laws

During the last legislative session, S13005 was introduced. This bill would have eliminated a large section of child labor laws in Idaho. In the Statement of Purpose for this bill it clearly stated that it was to “to liberate young adults to go to work” and “free workers to work at younger ages, get employment in jobs currently restricted, and help employers get the workers they need at lower costs.” Any changes made to over a century of child labor laws is a direct threat to our future. Our children deserve to be protected from exploitation, loss of health, limb or life. Over the last few years the United States has seen a number of child labor violations where a youth has lost their life or a limb in industries where it is already illegal for their employment. Idaho can not, and will not, allow our children to lose their childhood experiences for someone else’s profit through lower wages for all employees.

Labor Law Education

As students leave school and enter the workforce for the first time, many are under-educated regarding the requirements of employees and the responsibilities of employers. It is important for individuals to have an understanding of their rights and the rights of the employer. By better understanding Idaho’s labor laws, both employees and employers can work together to reduce turnover, increase productivity, and set clear standards for acceptable conduct in the workplace. With this in mind, I support teaching about Labor Law in our schools so that these basic concepts are understood and practiced.

The Trap of Right to Work

The so-called Right to Work law is simply a right to be exploited by some employers, for lower wages or benefits. Our government should not be a refuge for employers that are unwilling to engage with employees to improve work/life balance and pay their fair share of the capital that their work creates.6

Some claim that Right to Work laws keep unions from forcing employees to join a union to be employed, this is false and there already exists federal law regarding this issue. The real issue is that it makes it more difficult for employees to form a union and easier for some employers to take advantage of the individual, like a wolf separating an animal from a herd. When employees stand together to negotiate a contract they hold strength to have a voice in their workplace.

In fact, unionized employees can be more productive, help create a better workplace and stronger economies for working families.7

Working people have the right to work in a safe environment with hours scheduled in advance and at a good livable wage. We also have the right to work together to negotiate an agreement with our employer on these issues.

Individual Rights

Freedom of Choice and Personal Autonomy

The recent decision by the United States Supreme Court is the latest in a harmful string of assaults on the fundamental human rights of Americans. Removing a woman’s control of one’s body is no less than re-creating a group of second-class citizens of our mothers, daughters, and sisters. Regardless of how we may personally feel about the abortion issue, together we must find a way to protect the freedom of choice and personal liberty. If we do not, all may suffer at the hands of ideological individuals seeking complete control of the individual rights of others based on their views.

True liberty includes the freedom to choose who we are as an individual. Therefore, we must be free to choose who we love and what gender identity we may personally select. Our choices are OUR choices, and as long as they cause no harm to others, they are our human rights.

Schools and Education

Fund Education

The Legislature must fully fund our public school system. Legislators swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Idaho. Our founding document states:


The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.

I will protect and defend the Constitution of the State of Idaho to the best of my ability. Including holding other elected officials to this oath.

Supporting Accountable School Choice Options

Idaho has school choice options. Options like public charter schools are funded by, and accountable to, taxpayers. If that’s not right for your family, you can choose to educate on your own dime via private, religious, and homeschools.8 I support this system because it is fiscally smart, freedom focused, and determined primarily at the individual or local level. 

There is an accountability dilemma with voucher programs. Practicing fiscal responsibility means that public money must be spent in a responsible way, which includes knowing how our money is spent and who benefits from that spending. We can practice fiscal responsibility and accountability OR fund private, religious and homeschools, with no strings attached. We can’t do both. 

Furthermore, even The Idaho Homeschoolers Association opposes using public funds for private, religious, and homeschools. They hold this opinion because they know that ‘government funds come with government strings.’ 

I support our current system of schooling options, because I believe people should have the freedom to choose to educate their kids outside of the legislature’s purview.

Private Education Vouchers, Tax Credits, and Education Saving Accounts

In recent years this issue has been brought up in many states, including Idaho. The idea that it is an additional “choice” for parents is a fallacy. They are a scheme to divert state tax revenues to  private businesses without accountability. These schemes do not improve education outcomes, in fact it worsens them. Time and again any type of state funding of a private education system has only proven to take funding away from public schools and created huge budgetary issues for the state.9 Idaho can not afford this, plain and simple. It will harm rural communities and schools and create higher property taxes at a time where property taxes are already an issue that many struggle with paying.

Our public schools already face funding cuts even while our state has been increasing available funds. The issue is that many of these new funds for public schools come with mandates on how those funds are spent. This becomes a local control issue. How we fund public schools needs change that allows the local school board and communities to make the decisions that best fit their needs, not just what the legislature decides.

Fix Our Schools

The state Office of Performance Evaluation (OPE) reported in January 2022 that almost 60% of Idaho’s public schools are in fair or poor conditions.10 The report also found that Idaho schools need $847,000,000 of work just to get them to a minimum standard of safety. The Legislature must immediately address this issue efficiently and effectively. 

Contractors working in our schools must be vetted for performance, meeting timelines, remaining on budget, with an excellent safety record, and employ Idahoans. This will ensure that we are fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s dollars and keep that money in our communities.

Build New Schools

As Idaho continues to grow, we will need new schools to send our children to. These new facilities must be high-tech, highly efficient, and environmentally sound. Local communities should be able to decide for themselves how these schools function and look.

Apprenticeships, Idaho Launch and Higher Education

We must support registered apprenticeships and higher education as a means of securing a better future for Idaho’s youth.11

Registered apprenticeships are an underutilized path to a financially secure life where Idahoans don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. They provide training for careers as electricians, plumbers and pipefitters, heavy equipment operators, ironworkers, carpenters, and many more trades and crafts that are needed in Idaho. No one should have to go into lifelong debt to get a quality education. Registered apprenticeship training is an affordable means of earning a living with the benefits of healthcare and retirement. 

The path to an apprenticeship must be protected so that those who choose to follow it have the best possible opportunities after their training ends. Most importantly, apprenticeships should be legitimate programs for young Idahoans to better themselves personally and professionally. We must ensure that employers pay fair wages and provide real opportunities for growth. 

Idaho Launch, a grant program funded by our State, is a great opportunity for students that may, or may not fit into the university program. It is designed to encourage graduating Seniors to take on a career path in vocations that are needed in our State.12 I support this program as it will benefit Idaho both for employees and employers.Not including applicants from the graduating class of 2024, nearly 277 students from my district have received a grant to pursue an in demand career at a public Idaho University.13

For those looking to get a degree, we must ensure that our colleges and universities are affordable and continue to provide top-notch education. Before anything else, this means making sure that they are adequately funded and staffed.

Local Control

One of my core beliefs is that the government closest to the people works best for those people. Local control is a key item for Idaho. Counties, cities and school boards should make the decisions that are best for their communities, not the State Legislature. This is one of the main considerations I take into account when I vote on bills in the House of Idaho.

Increasing Housing Availability and Affordability

Idaho needs to go in a new direction to provide working families with opportunities for affordable housing. Purchasing a home is the working family’s method of building wealth. Unfortunately, our cities are collapsing under enormous housing costs while rural communities fade due to a lack of investment. 

At the core, this is a supply and demand problem. The limited supply of affordable starter homes has drastically increased the cost of home ownership. We know this has long-lasting effects on our community, as housing stability can often determine how children learn, how adults work, and the quality of life that families enjoy. 

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, a house in Pocatello that sold for $150,000 in 2017 would cost roughly $340,000 in 2024.14 That’s an increase of nearly 127%. This is a barrier for young families, working people, and senior citizens alike. Increasing housing availability and affordability is key to incentivizing high-quality workers, college graduates, and businesses to make Idaho their home. 

Through collaboration, we can find answers to these problems that will guarantee the human right to housing, incentivize investment, and encourage sustainable growth in Idaho.



The State of Idaho needs to increase the availability of Broadband Internet to our rural areas. Rural communities are what make living in Idaho great. In our digital age, it is imperative that these communities have low-cost, fast internet available to educate our children, do business and have access to the unlimited knowledge contained on the internet. We cannot wait or rely upon large corporations to build this network. 

Idaho has received  $600,000,000 of Federal funds to build out this infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Idaho Broadband Advisory Board15 removed wage protections that had been in place for these funds, and did not push for provisions that would have placed Idaho businesses and contractors as a primary choice to build out this network. Now, much of those funds are going to out of state contractors that pay low wages. We need the political will to do this job in a manner that benefits Idaho businesses, employers and workers.

Roads and Bridges

Yes, the Governor has committed state and federal funds to this in 2022, but it needs to be an ongoing fully funded plan. We need to maintain our roads to ensure the safety of our families and the ability to get to work in a safe and timely manner and for our children to get to school on a daily basis. Idaho businesses also rely on our roads to transport goods and provide services. They require reliable access to road and highway infrastructure that does not quickly degrade to remain profitable.

Idaho’s Energy Independence

Idaho’s ability to generate electricity is an essential factor that determines our economic well being. Currently, we are only producing 20% of our energy needs. Of the energy we produce, 28% is natural gas, 22% is non-hydroelectric renewables, and 49% is hydroelectric. Idaho Power and Vistacorp, two of Idaho’s largest utility companies, have plans in place to provide their customers with 100% clean energy by 2045.16 These plans include initiatives for efficiency, energy storage, renewable fuels, and much more. 

I support this initiative because it guarantees Idaho’s energy independence, provides high-quality jobs for trades workers, and helps protect the natural beauty of our great state.

Taxation and Revenue

Income Taxes

The Idaho Legislature says they have been lowering income taxes for EVERYBODY but really this is placing more of the burden of running our state onto the working people and small businesses. We need a tax system that is fair and fully funds the needs of our state.

Eliminate the Grocery Tax

Idahoans pay this tax every time we buy food for our families. Sure, you get a credit for $100 when you file your taxes at the end of the year. It would be better for you to keep that money rather than give it to the state to give back to you as a credit.

Property Taxes

Rising property taxes is not just a local issue. It starts with the Legislature; if they fully fund our schools and fairly share state tax revenue with our communities and school districts, it would reduce the need for local levies and bonds. Then our property taxes would be lower.

Public Access to State Lands

Freedom of Choice and Personal Autonomy

Our state lands must remain, not be sold off for short-term financial gain, and should be accessible to all. Camping, hunting, fishing, or a picnic on state lands should not need to be something that we need special permission from an out-of-state landowner to enjoy with friends and family. We must hold fast to this ideal for future generations.

As a State Representative, I welcome input from all people on any of these subjects. I pledge to listen, and act, in the best interest of our community.