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The 'worsts' from Idaho's 2023 legislature

I may gripe my way through every legislative session, but I try to stick to issues that make a difference. At this point, with everything signed and sealed, I feel free to think back on the things that just tick me off.

It’s time for some Worst Awards!

Most Arrogance–Individual. First runner-up is “Cash payment” (HB317) by Republican Heather Scott, who’s ranked third by the libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation. After having her cash turned down at a snack bar during a game, Scott came up with a sweeping regulation requiring every entity doing business in Idaho to accept cash for purchases under $10,000.

The winner, however, is “Vaccines” (HB 154) introduced by Tammy Nichols of Middleton, who’s also in the IFF top ten.This bill sought to make it illegal to give MRNA vaccinations in Idaho. After 64% of Idahoans chose to take such vaccinations for COVID-19, Nichols wants to make sure we don’t have the freedom to react similarly during another pandemic.

One can wonder what Scott and Nichols would propose if they weren’t against government regulation.

Most Arrogance–Group. First runner up is “Ranked choice voting prohibition” (HB 179) supported by all Republican legislators except for four senators in Eastern Idaho. Ranked voting switches votes for the candidate with the least votes to the voter’s next choice until one candidate gets over 50%. It can be used for nonpartisan elections, for party primaries or for a general primary with the top two chosen for the general election even if they are in the same party.

Now, why should the legislature dictate how locally elected entities–e.g., highway, cemetery or library districts–select board members?

And the winner–“Initiatives, signatures” (SJR 101), the attempt to amend the Idaho constitution to require signatures of six percent of registered voters in all 35 legislative districts in order to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot. In 2021 the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that requiring signatures by every district did not end the “tyranny of the majority” because every district gets to participate in the balloting regardless of the signature rule. Instead, the 35-district requirement would be “tyranny of the minority” with the failure to get enough signatures in one district blocking everyone’s right to vote on an issue.

To continue demanding this signature increase demonstrates an impractical thirst for power and a dislike of democracy. And believing Idahoans would vote for such a constitutional amendment assumes we trust legislators–including future ones–more than the people.

Twenty-one Republicans joined Democrats in opposing this bill. Those from the Boise Valley include only representatives Chris Allgood and Julie Yamamoto of Caldwell and James Petzke from Meridian.

Worst Named Bill. The runner-up is the ”Freedom in education savings accounts” (HB 1038) whose title gives no clue this is about the state paying parents to take their children out of public schools or about funding students’ tuition to private and religious schools. No standards would mean parents could keep kids home without schooling. Even today some kids are companions for parents who feel too alone, and many are babysitters for working parents.

Winner. Although the authors called their bill the “Vulnerable Child Protective Act,” someone decided to make treatment of genital disphoria truly repulsive by indexing HB 7 as “Genital mutilation of a child.” Sex change operations on juveniles are not accepted medical practice.and no one knows of one ever happening in Idaho. Hormone treatments are not mutilation.

A more accurate name would be “Big brother knows best.”

This done, I now feel free to check on what else has been happening in our world.

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