Citizen Action -Success & Limits

Gov. Brad Little is vetoing both bills aimed at making it harder to get an initiative on the ballot in Idaho.  And, from one end of the state to the other, Idahoans are grateful.

The Governor listened to the people.

Some might have expected Gov. Little to do so.

Many, however, found it hard to imagine any governor going against the leadership of his own party. Republican legislators voted 4-to-1 for HB 296; that’s a lot of enemies to make with a stroke of the pen especially if, as Rep. Barbara Ehardt reportedly told journalist Natan Brown, Little took part in behind-the-scenes discussions and then went back on his commitment.

Voters are now so relieved and thankful they’re not questioning the details.

That’s the only explanation I can think of for no one mentioning that Little’s stated reason for vetoing the bills is nonsense.

“The bills invite legal challenges that likely will result in the Idaho initiative process being determined by the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—the same Circuit that recently decided Idaho should pay for gender reassignment surgery for a transgender inmate serving time for molesting a child. We need to do all we can to control the rules of our initiative process.”

Oh, that Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is liberal and terrible and bad–and totally irrelevant.

Federal appeals courts only deal with cases involving rights under the U.S. Constitution.  

The right of Idahoans to initiate bills is only guaranteed under the state Constitution.  

And anyone with Gov. Little’s experience must know this.

So Little not only opposed serious powers in his own party, he avoided telling Idahoans why.

My guess is he acted to prevent the destruction of the Idaho Republican Party.

Those phone calls, emails and letters that citizens sent to Governor Little’s office last week came from hundreds of anxious and outraged Idaho citizens, who might never vote for a legislator they see as against citizens having a voice.  

So citizen action made the difference. Initiative supporters can congratulate themselves for they–not fear of some judges hundreds of miles away–saved the initiative.

We all know–even if the Governor doesn’t acknowledge it.   

People power also had a victory at the Federal level recently.  

After President Donald Trump sent his suggested budget to Congress without any funding for the Special Olympics, it fell to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defend the $17.6 million cut. She said supporting the Special Olympics was not an essential role of the government and the Special Olympics organization raised significant funds on its own.

Then Americans–parents, athletes, volunteers and other supporters–spoke up about the experiences, sense of inclusion, and joy that the contests bring to 5 million athletes around the world each year.  Some even pointed out the public funds expended were similar to those spent on the President’s golf trips.

Overnight, the President disavowed the cuts.

Good to know citizen action is making a difference.

But the Special Olympics was only one of 29 programs to be eliminated under the President’s budget. Among those others are 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Arts in Education, Javits Gifted and Talented Education, and Regional Educational Laboratories.

These programs may not be as visible, fun, or widespread as the Special Olympics, but they do contribute to the education of thousands of students.

There’s a limit to how many programs citizen action can save one or two. Those who are really concerned need to start electing leaders who care about the same things they do  

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019

Published by Judy Ferro

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

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