Successes & Frustrations – Rep. Heather Scott – District 1
The Idaho Coalition of Home Educators visited the Capitol last week and students shared their school projects. It was great to meet so many bright young minds!
Week #5 of the 2017 legislative session is coming to a close and legislators have been busy. To date a total of 155 House Bills and 82 Senate Bills have been printed. These bills are routed through committees, where testimony is presented on the bill. If passed out of committee, bills must pass through both chambers and be approved by the governor in order to become law.
While every legislator’s vote is equal during a full House or Senate floor voting session, every legislator’s representation of their district is not treated the same way. Each Committee Chairman has the ability to allow a bill to be heard or not be heard within the committees. This is where politics can get shady and the most likely place where citizen’s freedoms and liberties can get trampled. Many committee chairmen follow a top down centralized-power type of agenda instead of allowing every legislator to present the ideas of their constituents. The Committee Chairman makes the final decision if a bill is even put on the agenda. Does this sound like Lincoln’s “government of the people, by the people, for the people” to you? Me neither.
If a Committee Chairman crosses the Speaker of the House, the Speaker can remove that chairman from his/her position and replace them with a new chair. This may be the reason a committee chairman from last year lost his position this year, after he voted against the Speaker’s bill at the end of last session. It’s hard to believe at times we still call this a Republican form of government. This style of leadership not only hurts conservative liberty minded republicans but also democrats. Citizens from a broad spectrum of the population are being silenced.
It should also be noted that legislators gain seniority the longer they stay on the same committee. Seniority generally leads to a chairmanship. Moving legislators around on committees during every session is a slick way for leadership to insure they either “stack the deck” in committees they need to insure the proper voting results or to keep those they dislike from staying on committees where they are effective, or to gain a chairmanship position.
Currently there are several good bill ideas sitting in Committee Chairmen drawers (see my reference above as to why the Committee system needs revisiting) and are being denied an opportunity to be introduced and debated. These bill ideas (called RSs) are being refused an all-important hearing which is required to give an RS a bill number.
This is one of the many reasons I always encourage citizens to get involved in their government. You can make your voice heard by frequently contacting committee chairmen and demanding these ideas be heard and receive a fair debate. Go to the following web address to find the necessary contact information. http://growingfreedomidaho.com/bills/#email
Growing Freedom Agenda Floor Successes:
Liberty legislators have been hard at work on liberty related bills. These efforts have resulted in three Freedom Agenda Bills being passed on the House Floor! On Feb 2nd, HB 67 passed which will reduce Income Tax Rates and Corporate Income Tax Rates for Idaho citizens. This week House Bill 20, which will reduce the hybrid vehicle fees, passed.
Growing Freedom Frustrations:
As always, with good news comes not so good news. HB 110, a bill to eliminate vehicle front license plate requirements for newer vehicles failed on the House floor on Thursday, February 9th.
Bills that have passed the House Floor that I am NOT in favor of include:
HB 26, a tax conformity bill that accepts the Federal government’s definition of same sex marriage, which is in conflict with Article III Section 28 of our state constitution which reads “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” If this is something Idaho wants to change, it needs to be done correctly and legally which requires a change to the Idaho Constitution, not just ignoring it and violating it. Actions like this weaken every other law on the books by diminishing the effectiveness of our constitution.
HB 8 requires licensed massage therapists to obtain a “satisfactory fingerprint-based criminal background check” in order to work in Idaho. This is just another layer unnecessary data collection on the public.
HB 11 requires optometrists to have additional training in order to practice in Idaho.
HB 46 will make sign language interpretation a crime with a $1000 fine or 6 months in jail without a license. Is this really the type of laws Idaho wants to be passing? It will do nothing but discourage people for helping others with disabilities.
Rep. Scott Committee News:
I am “being allowed” to vote in my committees after a leadership induced shutout which most of you know about . My committees include: 1) State Affairs; 2) Environment, Energy and Technology; and 3) Human Resources.
Gambling, slot machines and the lottery have been hot items in the State Affairs committee, while the PERSI retirement program and employee classification bills seem to fill my Commerce and Human Resource committee.
All of my committees have completed the rules review process at this time.
Proposed Bills currently being denied a hearing by committee chairmen include:
Education Freedom Bills (Chairman VanOrden):
1. Repeal Common Core – Education committee chairman has the RS.
2. Repeal the SBAC Test – Education committee chairman has the RS.
3. Restrictions and Transparency on Data Mining for School Children and Teaches
Gun Freedom (Chairman Loertscher):
4. The Castle Doctrine-State Affairs chairman has the RS.
Health Freedom (Chairman Wood):
5. Repeal the state Health Insurance Exchange – Health and Welfare committee chairman has the RS.
Government Transparency (Chairman Hartgen):
6. Stop special pension spiking for legislator’s pension plans.
Local Government Freedom (Chairman Perry)
7. City initiatives and referendums in all years allowed – Local Government committee chairman has the bill (H109)
8. Electronic publication of public notices allowed – Local Government committee chairman has the RS
Many Democrat sponsored bills including the following (Chairman Anderst- Ways & Means):
9. Minimum Wage increase. Ways and Means committee chairman has the bill (H72)
10. Popular Vote Agreement-Ways and Means committee chairman has the bill (H59)
11. Same sex marriage-constitution-Ways and Means committee chairman has the bill (HJR002)
12. A resolution to change a House Rule that would allow any bill with 10 co-sponsors (5 from each party) to be heard in committee- Ways and Means committee chairman has the bill HR (001)
Here is a link to a useful legislative tool. The 2017 Legislative Directory is a complete list of all legislators, their contact information and their committees. https://legislature.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/sessioninfo/2017/Directory/Legislative_Directory.pdf