The last two weeks at the capitol have been overshadowed by the death of the husband of the secretary for the Speaker of the House. Because of these funeral services, last Friday’s session was cut short; this Thursday’s House session was canceled, and committee meetings were rescheduled. Meetings were extended to make up for missed time so legislations has continued to move through the various committee process quickly.
This past week we discussed the Article V Convention. This was one of the hardest votes I have had to cast in my time in the Legislature. The decision was whether or not to add Idaho to the list of 12 other states to apply to Congress to call an Amendment Convention of the States, pursuant to Article 5 of the United States Constitution. Along with the other members in my State Affairs committee, I listened to over six-and-a-half hours of passionate testimony from both sides of the argument. Additionally, on two occasions I spent time with Mark Meckler, who leads the movement on the Convention of States Action project.
One thing is for sure, Idahoans love our country and our Constitution. The arguments on both sides were compelling and made the decision a difficult one. My final decision was a “no” vote, based on several factors. First and foremost is the fact that when a convention is held, there is no guarantee that Idaho would be assured of an equal vote (one vote per state), and the Congressional Research Service report from 2016 confirmed this fact. Idaho currently has only four out of the 535 federally elected congressmen, which is 0.7 percent of the votes. Opening the Constitution to amendments and having only a 0.7 percent say in the voting outcome on any amendment seemed to be a bad deal for Idaho citizens. Another reason for my decision was the concern that changing or adding language to our constitution wouldn’t guarantee elected officials would adhere to it as we have seen in recent years. Only the citizens can enforce that. There were also some problems with the bill’s language.
I also participated in two press conferences last week. The first, by the Business Committee chairman, announced the formation of a Regulatory Reform Joint Subcommittee that will be working with licensing boards to examine current rules and regulations within their respective fields. Part of the goal of this committee is to analyze the impact of regulations on businesses and to present recommendations for easing regulatory or licensing requirements on their industries. This a positive move in the right direction.
On Friday, conservatives held a second press conference to offer alternative options to the current top-down legislation being pushed through House committees by the executive branch. We, like many citizens, want legislation to offer real solutions to Idahoans’ growing frustrations with big government. The release included three major bills: The BIG tax relief plan (businesses, income, and grocery tax cuts), the Idaho Victim Protection Act, and the Conservative Health Care Plan.
The healthcare and tax relief bills offer a stark contrast to Gov. Otter’s little tax relief plan and what would ultimately be Medicaid expansion. The Idaho Victim Protection Act is legislation written by Idaho legislators to change current code to enhance victim’s rights. This is a better choice when compared to a California billionaire’s proposal (Marcy’s Law) to change the Idaho Constitution through an amendment. This has been a nationwide effort.
It’s very clear that these ideas from conservative legislators are better options for Idaho families, favor limited government, and offer real help to hardworking Idahoans. Citizens are encouraged to contact their legislators and remind them you want real solutions to Idaho’s problems. Visual comparison charts and more details can be viewed at www.GrowingFreedomIdaho.com.
On a final note, it was great to see Bonner and Boundary county commissioners and elected officials on Tuesday and Wednesday evening this week. They were in town along with other counties’ elected officials from across the state building stronger relationships with Idaho legislators and each other at the Idaho Association of Counties event. If you happen to be in Boise between now and through March, please let me know and I’ll be happy to show you around the capitol.
Rep. Heather Scott represents Bonner and Boundary counties in the Idaho Legislature in District 1A. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.