Democrats prevent extremist takeover of Idaho House

As temperatures soar into the 90s this week, many of us will be spending time with kids home from school, keeping newly sprouted plants from burning up, and making plans for a vacation getaway. 

I’m sure most would rather put Idaho’s worst legislative session ever behind. But last week the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee shared a meme on social media that was hard to ignore. It lists nine programs that wouldn’t have been funded this year without Democratic votes. 

I had to know the details. .    . 

House Republicans were divided 24-34, 23-34 or 23-33 on five of the issues. Even with the 12 Democratic votes in the House, they barely passed. The other issues needed two to eight Democratic votes to pass.    .  

Only one of the programs is new. HB 395 seeks to restore child care services that were disrupted and financially hurt during the recent pandemic.

SB1185 funds Medicaid for Idaho for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1–not just Medicaid expansion, but the entire program serving 300,000 low-income Idahoans. SB1175 funds WWAMI, which helps Idaho students afford medical school in other states and makes hospital residencies here possible. SB1181 funds councils to shelter and counsel victims of domestic violence and to help those with disabilities gain independence and jobs. 

HB204 funds programs of  Parks and Recreation. HB224 funds a commission to identify and seek solutions to problems affecting the Hispanic community.  

Two of the programs are common targets for conservatives–Idaho Public Television (HB283) and the Idaho Commission on the Arts (HB270).

The votes on these nine bills indicate that extremist Republicans outnumber moderate ones in the Idaho House. With only three or four more extremist votes Idahoans would be without access to Medicaid or shelters for bruised and injured women and children. . 

Just who voted against these bills? 

Five of the 10 representatives elected in Canyon County voted against most: Judy Boyle (District 9), Tammy Nelson (D11), Bruce Skaug (D12) and Ben Adams and Brent Crane (D13).  Ryan Kerby (D9) voted to discontinue Medicaid and Idaho Public Television. Julie Yamamoto (D10) voted against funding the Violence Council, Developmental Disabilities Council, and Parks and Recreation.  

Five of the seven Republican representatives from Ada County also opposed  most of the bills: Gayann DeMordaunt (D14), Joe Palmer and James Holtzclaw (D20), and Steven Harris and Greg Ferch (D21).  Mike Moyle (D14) voted against the Idaho Commission on the Arts, the Idaho Hispanic Commission, and funds for child care providers. Codi Galloway (D15) voted against funding Medicaid and Idaho Public Television. 

Some of you may remember that a couple weeks ago, I suggested you look up the voting records on four bills–HB216, HB226, SB1088 and SB1110. 

With only a couple exceptions, the legislators listed above opposed three of these bills.

They also voted against Idahoans by supporting the fourth bill, SB 1110, which makes it virtually impossible to get initiatives and referendums on our ballots. But most moderate Republicans, including all those representing Canyon and Ada counties, joined extremists in supporting this bill.. Even ‘moderates’ didn’t support the right of citizens to take collective action on issues important to them.

A lot of voters are angry about actions by this year’s legislators. 

But are they angry enough? Will they speak out, join work teams, and talk to voters? 

IDLCC is actively looking for candidates now. Campaigns that kick off soon have the best chance of winning. I challenge you to talk to friends–at least five–to see just who they might take time to help campaign. 

. If you have questions or suggestions, email me at   

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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