Legislators want to ‘protect’ Idahoans

This week the Idaho legislature may have earned its keep. Twenty-three bills passed the House and seven, the Senate. Most were housekeeping bills that cleaned up out-of-date statutes like the 1941 law regulating the Idaho Tuberculosis Hospital which no longer exists.  Most passed unanimously or nearly so. 

One bill, the appropriation for the Idaho State Board of Education (SB 1008), passed both houses, 99-3 with 3 absent. Again, it doesn’t affect schools, only administrative offices, but it needed done. 

And both houses came up with bills concerning future declarations of emergency that–in part–are worth considering.  Rather than limit the time for a governor’s declaration of emergency, HB 98 and SB 1054 limit any restrictions accompanying a declaration to 60 day unless the legislature agrees to renew them. Federal emergency funds won’t be affected.  

Unfortunately, the bills don’t stop there. They also ensure “that all Idahoans have the right to work, provide for their families and … contribute to the economy during an emergency disaster declaration.”  

So Idahoans would have the right to keep working even if it endangers their lives and the lives of those around them. If they walk away, they won’t be able to draw unemployment. 

This might be a good time to remember that not all pandemics are hardest on the elderly. The virus that caused the 1918-20 flu epidemic turned strong immune systems against those infected. Nearly half the U.S. deaths were people 20 to 40 years of age.

And now Rep. Brent Crane and Barbara Ehardt are fighting for our rights to attend sports events without masks and distancing. 

Of course, we would also lose our rights to attend sports events with masks and distancing.  

Such faux concern for voters is also apparent in the bond and levy disclosure bill sponsored by Rep Ron Nate. HB66 would require government agencies to state six things about any bond or levy–like what is being financed, the anticipated interest rate, and the total sum that needs to be repaid. 

But the election would be invalid if the ballot question includes any “other information or language regarding any other bond, levy, or matter…”

So voters will be protected from learning whether their taxes per $100,000 of property appraisal are apt to be more or less than under a previous levy unless they seek out other sources of information. 

Even after Rep. Laurie Lickley, R-Jerome, pointed out this bill “actually does the opposite” of simplifying and promoting transparency,” the House passed it, 46-24 (IdEdNews.com, Feb.3). 

Perhaps the ultimate ‘we know what’s best for you’ bill is SJR101. It would insert Idaho’s current drug laws into the Idaho Constitution so only a two-thirds vote of both legislative houses  and a majority popular vote could change them.  

Sponsor C. Scott Grow sees the bill not as limiting the rights of future Idahoans to make changes, but as protecting them. “We want to protect people from things that may not be helpful even though they’re sold to the public as being helpful.”

He’s simply afraid Idahoans will be swayed by oncologists and their evil allies–those ”wealthy out-of-state interests [that] pushed [in other states] for the moves to the detriment of residents.”

Well, Grow’s bill passed the Senate 24-11 this week. Be thankful that voters have a say on Constitutional amendments.  

Is everyone aware that the legislature has not authorized spending of any of the $900 million in emergency funds received in December. 

Protecting us seems to be taking so much time. Somehow I’m reminded of the phrase, with friends like these, who needs enemies?  



Published by Judy Ferro

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

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