Legislative Update – Rep. Ronald Nate
Wiener Dogs: Yes — Repeal SBAC: No
By all accounts the 2017 Legislative Session is slow, unproductive, and uneventful so far. There are surprisingly few bills introduced to this point, there are only 184 bills in the House and 101 in the Senate–but that can be a good thing. It appears most of these bills are stalled already. Many committee meetings are cancelled and others only have a few bills on the agenda.
In addition to so few bills being introduced, many of the introduced ones are being held in committee chairman drawers. There is “tradition” in the capitol where legislation is either moved along or held by committee chairmen. They exercise dictatorial control of committees and what bills get heard. This undoes the representative government process and it silences voices of many Idahoans whose legislation gets stopped without a public hearing.
It is a frustrating reality. Those in power argue that this is good government because it protects legislators from “uncomfortable” votes. They also argue about how we don’t waste time on unworthy bills. They claim efficiency. But, I can’t help but notice the abuse of power in many instances. Many good bills are stopped and many bad bills are advanced. The legislative process gets distorted and misused.
Let’s look at the fruits of the process the past few years. Here is what gets stopped: two bills to protect gun rights, repeal Common Core, repeal the SBAC test, repeal the state health insurance exchange, reduce income taxes, fund roads with existing revenues, limits on wasteful spending, homeowner rights, electronic public notice, school choice, and the list goes on.
On the other hand, here is what gets advanced in committees: increased gas taxes, increased registration fees, hearings on “add the words,” expand Obamacare, increase licensing requirements, spend more on virtually everything, recognize national diaper month, and allow wiener dog racing at county fairs (I actually like this one).
In many cases, good legislation gets stopped, bad legislation gets a hearing. It is exactly the opposite of what we would think should happen in “conservative Idaho.”
For example, personally, I have three bills relating to local government, two stalled, one still on track:
- Electronic publication of public notices — stalled in Local Government Committee.
- City initiatives in any year — stalled in the Local Government Committee.
- Transparency in tax notices — scheduled in Revenue and Tax Committee 2/16.
We are supposed to have a representative government here in Idaho, but the “process” has devolved into each committee chairman wielding his own veto power. Committees are composed of representatives from all across the state. Each one represents the interests of about 55,000 Idahoans. A committee chairman comes from only one district, but disproportionately affects legislation for his committee.
I am here to work for the people. I have been busy carrying legislation for constituents. We all have important work to do like finding ways to attract and retain good teachers, repeal Common Core and SBAC testing, cut taxes, protect gun rights, protect Idaho sovereignty, etc. However, some committee chairs in Idaho are more interested in protecting a flawed process, supporting special interests, holding personal grudges, and staying on the gravy train. They are establishment, political-machine, politicians.
There is a growing group of legislators however, who are focused on liberty and who are here for the people. We have a freedom agenda and we are advancing it. There is a lot of work to do and we need more good legislators who truly understand how representative government is supposed to work. True liberty is much more than a wiener dog race at a county fair.
Article V Convention: Risky Business
Today a bill was introduced in the Idaho Senate for Idaho to join a call for a Convention of the States. The U.S. Constitution provides for several ways to amend the Constitution. One is a convention of the states, where 2/3 of the states call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. The proponents in Idaho want us to join the convention call so we can add a federal balanced budget amendment, others want term limits.
I have researched the idea of joining in the call for a Constitutional Convention of the States. The proposal is troubling and here are a few reasons why.
- The convention will undoubtedly run out of its intended boundaries.
- We could lose important Constitutional protections like the Second and Tenth Amendments.
- History shows binding of delegates to specific topics is impossible to enforce.
- Delegates will be the same sort of people who got us into this mess.
- A balanced budget amendment will be easily ignored or circumvented.
- The government doesn’t follow the Constitution now, what will a convention change?
Read more details here: growingfreedomidaho.com …
Overall, the risks of a constitutional convention outweigh the benefits. It is a dangerous gambit, and I think we would lose. We are in desperate need of fiscal restraint in Washington, DC, but what we really need are fiscally conservative statesmen making our budgeting decisions. We can already have that if we want. Elections matter. I vote for fiscal restraint, but many of my colleagues in conservative Idaho do not; and Washington, DC is even worse. We can do better. The people get the government they ask for, and a convention won’t suddenly create good government. The people need to hold their elected officials accountable to the Constitution already in place, otherwise, amending the Constitution is an exercise in futility. I oppose the resolution for a Constitutional Convention call.
Bills of Interest Update
Here is an update of some of the key bills working their way through the Capitol.
H67 – Income Tax Cut – Stalled in Senate Finance Committee.
H109 – City referendum elections in all years – Stalled in Local Government Committee.
H110 – Front license plates optional on some vehicles – Failed in the House, 28-42.
H137 – Fix omission in law allowing homeowners to do electrical work on their property – Committee hearing on Feb. 23.
H154 – Transparency in Tax Notices – House Rev. and Tax Committee hearing pending.
H172 – Civil Asset Forfeiture – House Judiciary Committee.
H179 – No Mandatory Minimum Sentencing – House Judiciary Committee.
S1050 – Immunization Exemption Rights – Stalled in Senate H&W Committee.
___ – Repeal Common Core – Stalled in House Education Committee.
___ – Repeal the SBAC Test – Stalled in House Education Committee.
___ – Strengthen/Revise Castle Doctrine – Stalled in House State Affairs Committee.
___ – Concealed Gun Rights Expansion – Stalled in House State Affairs Committee.
___ – Require Informed Consent on Abortion Pills (to give women information about how to reverse a chemical abortion, therefore saving some babies before it’s too late) – In drafting stage. Hearing pending.
___ – Firearms safety classes in high schools – Revisions, print hearing forthcoming.
___ – Electronic publishing of public notices – Stalled in Local Government Comm.
___ – Repeal Health Insurance Exchange – Stalled in Health and Welfare Comm.
___ – Article V Convention – Senate State Affairs Committee.
___ – Other tax cut bills – In drafting stage.
Growing Freedom – Get Involved!
Please visit the Growing Freedom Idaho website to help all citizens be more involved with what is going on in the Idaho Legislature and how to effectively make their voices heard. The site includes a Freedom Agenda of legislation brought to the legislature by citizens and is what liberty minded legislators are pursuing this session.