Idaho House committees attack regulations

The Idaho House declared all-out war on regulations last week.  

The House Education Committee led by annihilating existing standards for teacher certification and for curricula in English, math, and science. 

The committee didn’t just riddle the standards with holes. They killed them outright–though the Senate Ed Committee may still resurrect them.  Existing regulations need only pass one germane committee to remain in effect; they don’t go before the full House or Senate.  

I have to admit that I was totally unaware that voters were unhappy that teachers had to have credentials, especially now that we have alternative education programs that substitute a summer institute for a year of graduate credits and allow people with no credentials to teach in charter schools. I think teachers should know that parroting isn’t comprehension and should have college credits in the subjects they teach.  

Some voters do complain that the math and English standards, which closely mirror ‘common core’ standards used by most other states, cripple local control and replaced needed instruction time with expensive, time-consuming testing. 

Ed committee members, however, didn’t argue for local control or less testing. They complained that student scores have failed to rise and called for new standards that “work.”  So the Idaho science standards, written by some of the state’s best educators, got thrown out with the ‘common core’ ones.  

And the Department of Ed is now mandated to write standards that show Idaho’s ill-funded schools are doing a great job. 

    The House Agricultural Committee joined the attack on existing regulations by killing rules barring crop dusters from spraying pesticides on occupied structures, during certain wind speeds, or near hazard areas.

After all, regulations drive up costs for private companies. 

Members of the industry argued that crop dusters today are skilled and professional and that only the Federal Aviation Agency has the power to regulate items in flight. 

Never mind that the FAA has never regulated Idaho crop dusters.  And never mind that today’s pesticides are designed to be faster acting and more potent than ever.

 Idaho’s Department of Agriculture actually had the audacity to ticket a pilot after a dozen Parma farmworkers were hospitalized.  

Regulations that get enforced are the worst.  

And the House Resources and Conservation Committee joined the attack on regulations by blocking a bill that would have fined individuals up to $1000 for blocking access to public roads. A study by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership estimates that private blockades prevent Idahoans from accessing 208,000 acres of the state’s public lands. 

So what if you can no longer pick berries at the spot your family has liked for decades. Regulations are bad. And Idaho can boast of having fewer pages of regulations than any other state.  

So what do these attacks mean for Idahoans? 

The proposal to fine people for blocking roads is dead this session.

The three existing regulations will now go to the ‘germane’ Senate committees. If they pass there, they will remain in effect.  

If they don’t, the agencies involved have the right to adopt ‘temporary regulations’ which the same committees will give thumbs up or down next session.  

If both the House and Senate Agricultural committees want the state’s power to monitor crop dusting gone, the Department of Agriculture would risk cuts in funding if they reinstated the regulations. 

But the House Education Committee hasn’t said it doesn’t want standards–heaven forbid that local school districts have a say–but it hasn’t asked for specific changes. Some Republican members have said their vote doesn’t change anything at all. 

Though it does give them points with some big donors.    


Published by Judy Ferro

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

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