The Idaho legislature serves up an extra dollop of crazy during election years.
A little crazy is the norm each session. Something has to fill the time before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee decides on a budget for next year and the spending bills start moving.
In election years, though, Republicans fearing a challenger want to earn headlines with bills supporting issues that are hot buttons for voters–like gun rights, abortion, and school choice.
Problem is they’ve already passed all the common sense options.
Take gun laws, for instance. Just what can legislators do after approving concealed carry for all residents over 18? Including non-residents can’t be much of a vote getter. Maybe they’ll require dealers to carry large gun magazines–20 rounds, maybe even 50? Or maybe they’ll follow Greenleaf’s lead and require a gun in every household?
Do expect bills making abortion a felony and transfering more funding from public schools to charters.
The problem is too many voters think of politics like a football game–two teams try to get to goals at opposite ends.
In reality, goals are in every direction–and some are in the middle.
Democrats aren’t out to take your guns away. Gov. Andrus was a noted hunter and a decade ago a First District nominee for U.S. Representative had been an NRA member for 20 years.
The majority of Democrats back what they see as common sense–universal background checks and limits on the size of magazines.
And we certainly aren’t unhappy that a church’s security guard stopped a shooter. What an insult to our humanity.
And Democrats are pro-every-child-being-wanted-and-cared-for rather than pro-abortion. More and better jobs have proven effective at cutting abortion rates; punishment hasn’t.
Republicans did introduce a bill in the last legislature to allow murder charges against women who get abortions. Abortion restrictions were introduced in the majority of states because President Trump’s two Supreme Court appointments have brought speculation over whether the Court will overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Idaho already struggles to pay for one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Are we ready to pay care of children whose moms are serving time?
Why aren’t we willing to put similar sums into making having one more child a more feasible choice for a woman?
Consider what it would be like if everyone assumed that Republicans were anti-Democratic goals?
Idaho’s highest elected Democratic leader–Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett–posted her goals for the 2020 legislature in blogs in October and December.
Creating economic opportunities and quality jobs.
Providing better educational opportunities leading to a skilled workforce.
Protecting clean air and water and public access.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing roads, bridges. and drinking water and sewage systems.
Dealing with the shortage of physicians and financial problems of local hospitals.
Now, Republicans have opposed bills aimed at furthering these goals because they would increase government spending and control.
Does that mean Democrats have the right to accuse all Republicans of being pro-bridge collapse? Or pro-low paying jobs?
Not at all. Many Republicans share Stennett’s goals; they may consider them less of a priority than they are for many Idaho Democrats, but they still recognize them as worth working toward.
Unfortunately, there are other Democratic goals that many Idaho Republican legislators do disagree with–the rights of the people to have adequate healthcare, to initiate legislation, and to vote in legislative districts created by a bipartisan commission.
And if it does come down to a vote by party, there aren’t enough Democrats in the legislature to protect these rights.
We can only hope that Republican legislators listen to their voters.
I won’t hold my breath.