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The extreme side of ‘mainstream’ Republicans

Republican legislators set out to pass bills on income taxes, abortion and guns every year to get positive notice, aka money, from out-of-state donors and to discourage primary challengers.

The $450 million in ongoing income tax cuts passed this year and last benefit few, but will hurt Idahoans for years. Ambulances will arrive later, students will languish in overcrowded classrooms, prison recidivism will remain high and expensive, roads will be more crowded, etc.

So, many of us have been holding our breath as we wait to see what this legislature would do about abortion and guns


After all, we already have bills making abortion totally illegal if the current Supreme Court reverses a 1973 ruling. And last year these legislators passed a bill making abortion illegal for a woman six or more weeks pregnant whenever an appellate court upholds a similar law.

For a brief time this session Idahoans could hope that this year’s abortion legislation would be the resolutions naming January 22 a National Day of Tears. Although flags at half mast may be upsetting to some, no basic rights are trampled on.

Similarly, Idahoans have nearly every privilege imagined for gun owners. Idahoans over 18 who aren’t serving time for a crime may carry a concealed weapon except in specified places like courthouses and schools. And convicted felons get their gun rights restored if they haven’t actually killed anyone.

So, briefly, we could hope the 2022 legislators would be satisfied with a bill declaring gun businesses essential services–and forbidding the seizure of guns–during times of emergency. . So gun manufacturing, sales and brandishing can continue through drought, fire, pandemic, and armed rebellion.

But it didn’t end there.

Last week two more bills were reported out of committees.

The abortion bill (SB 1309) is patterned after a Texas law that’s had national attention. Any doctor that conducts an abortion after a ‘fetal heartbeat’ is detected could be sued for a minimum of $20,000. Here, however, only relatives of the fetus could sue, but a dozen or more could bring suits–and win.

So civil suits would punish an act that is still considered legal. No doubt the state will lose another expensive legal battle if the law goes into effect–which it will if a similar bill for another state is approved by a lower court.

So, the law may change nothing. If a lower court nullifies the Texas law, Idaho’s will never go into effect. If the Supreme Court overthrows Roe vs. Wade, all abortions will be illegal in Idaho.

But the law is a definite signal to big donors and would-be challengers that Idaho’s current Republican legislators can deliver.

The gun bill (HB 475) would repeal an 85-year-old law that forbids private militias and doesn’t allow non-military persons to parade with weapons. Repeal is backed by Gov. Little and the Idaho National Guard and is co-sponsored by 19 Republican legislators.

An argument included in the bill’s description claims that banning private militias violates rights in the Constitution. Yet, the Supreme Court has upheld such laws for 150 years.

Some supporters argue that more current laws make it illegal to “conspire” to intimidate citizens enjoying any rights and privileges guaranteed by law.

Idahoans in the northern cities where, on at least two occasions the Proud Boys have taken over the streets, are saying they felt intimidated by such “protection.”

Private militias created what is often called the Dark Ages. People who couldn’t afford a militia gave up their land and signed on as serfs in order to be protected.

Mainstream Republicans–not just the extremists–push such bills year after year. Yet, the majority of Idahoans continue to vote for them.

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