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Highlights of last week include Idaho Senate rejection of House bills

Last week was memorable for many reasons. One–the fact the Ukrainians kept fighting–is of worldwide importance. Many of us heard for the first time of Holodomor, the terror-famine which the Soviet Union inflicted on the Ukraine in 1932-33. Conservative estimates are that four million starved to death as Soviets shipped Ukrainian crops to Russian markets. Ukrainians have not forgotten.

In contrast, those of us in Idaho have had a fairly good week. Not a great one, however, for those of us in the Vallivue School District. In my core, I feel that 1345 votes should win over 744, but that is actually 144 votes short of a two-thirds majority. Now our school board has to gamble on getting better results in May or August or November. Neither the legislature that denies impact fees for schools and libraries nor the agencies issuing thousands of building permits acknowledge they have any duty to the kids crowded into temporary portables.

But our legislature finished a fairly productive 9th week in spite of Republican legislators continually checking to see who filed to run against them in May. The 500th bill was introduced–just above par for recent legislatures–and the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee released a spate of bills for agency appropriations.

Unfortunately, the House has already defeated the appropriations for the Commerce Department. Apparently, members didn’t trust that the $100 million in Federal funding for broadband throughout the state would be managed well. Rep. Heather Scott suggested the money could go to political cronies. (That did happen under Gov. Otter, and the Feds insisted Idaho refund its money.)

And Idaho Senate leaders, looking at 138 bills passed by the House and now awaiting their attention, declared they have no plans to bring bills by “crazies” in the House to the Senate floor. That’s a startling statement–these bills were passed by a majority of House members, all from their own party–but it was good news for many.

President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder specifically rejected the bill to criminalize librarians who allow children to see “obscene” materials–which House members seemed to believe include any reference to LGBT persons, even if no sex act is depicted (HB 666). Winder also dismissed HB 675, which would make it a felony punishable by up to life imprisonment to provide hormonal therapy to a minor.

Winder additionally predicted that the bills to allow private militias and to forbid schools from requiring masks would die in committee, along with several bills dealing with elections.

Blake Youde, lobbyist for county recorders and clerks, has pointed out there are now 64 election bills pending before the legislature. That’s more than one per Republican House member.

In February Rep Dorothy Moon, candidate for secretary of state, introduced four bills dealing primarily with voter IDs. None have made it out of committee–which would indicate that not even the ‘crazies’ want her in charge of Idaho elections.

Last week, a second candidate for secretary-of-state, Sen. Mary Souza, introduced two bills of her own that outdid Moon’s in voter suppression. For instance, a person would have to make an absentee ballot request for each election–rather than for each calendar year–and would have to do so in person. Proof of identity, residency, and citizenship would be required each time. If a person was too incapicitated to go to the election’s office, a clerk would have to visit their home to check the required papers.

Republicans and Democrats, please, please, please vote for someone else running for secretary of state. Either Phil McGrane or Shawn Keenan will be on your May ballots.

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