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Adjournment in two weeks?

Note: If you live in the Parma, Notus, Nampa or Kuna school districts, this is an election day.

Last week a legislator suggested that it’s ridiculous for districts to present bond and levy elections in March because they don’t know what the state is going to fund–as if the state might dish out enough to pay for a school building and it’s hard to alter contracts to borrow less.

A few legislators claim that they still plan to adjourn by March 24. Don’t hold your breath. As of Friday, 26 bills had passed both houses–just half the number of last year.

Of course, I’d like adjournment with some bills dying in committee–for starters,those to eliminate Medicaid expansion, to allow parents to sue libraries if their kid brings home a dirty book, and to end the practice of allowing voters without proper I.D. to sign an affidavit instead (HBs 123, 139, 137).

Likewise, some bills that committees have passed should die. One (HB 205) would limit absentee ballots to those in the military, on a mission or at a second residence or those with a disability, job, or class that prevents them from voting in person.. A second (HB 259) would make it illegal for anyone other than elections office staff to distribute absentee ballots or absentee ballot applications.

Why is that written to sound as though just anyone can hand out absentee ballots under current law? That’s about as underhanded as the bill titled “silent prayer” that sponsors admitted would allow praying aloud in public places.

In truth, it’s only “absentee ballot requests” that can be handed out–and the state provides them online.

Why can’t good bills make it out of committee? Ones like those to eliminate the sales tax on groceries (HB 33), to extend Medicaid benefits for new mothers for 12 months after the birth (HB 122), and any one of the bills to reduce property taxes (HB 77, 78, and 79).

And the Senate has passed several items I’d like to see make it through the House. A bill to require landlords to reveal all extra fees in a lease (SB1039) passed 23-10 and was supported by all senators in Canyon and Ada counties (districts 9-23) except for Tammy Nichols. One to authorize a voters’ guide with information about candidates (SB 1078) passed 24-11 with Nichols, Todd Lakey and Brian Lenney opposing. A third calling for planning of a statewide emergency medical system passed 26-9, with Nichols, Lenny, and Chris Trakel opposing. .(We can conclude there are 9 to 11 Republican extremists in the Senate.)

Unfortunately, both moderate and extremist Republican senators joined in passing SJR101 to end Idahoans ability to pass initiatives and referenda.and to allow private militias to parade with arms.

The House split along party lines to pass a number of bad bills Some aim to increase power– HB 68 would give Republicans control of oversight on bill effectiveness; HB 124 would end the use of student IDs at the polls, and HB 179 would ban the use of ranked choice voting at any state or local elections.

The latter baffles me. You’d think Republicans would/ve learned the pitfalls of selecting a lieutenant governor nominee with less than 30% of the vote. Ranked voting takes the votes for the candidate in last place and distributes them to the voters’ next favorite choice–then repeats that action until someone gets 50%. It’s needed in primaries and nonpartisan city and school board elections where there are more than a few candidates. It’s used in Alaska and Maine and 23 cities in Utah.

So why do Republicans feel it's important to stop Nampa or Burley from using it?

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