If you had really low expectations for the Idaho Legislature, then this session is for you.
Just two months ago, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter used half of the State of the State address to urge an increase in education funding.
And here we are, in the final weeks of the session, and there isn’t one living bill that mentions anything about increasing education funding – not for teachers, not for students, nada.
If lawmakers haven’t done a very good job keeping up with the state’s priorities, they’ve done a wonderful job making the Secret Service look competent.
Otter’s second priority this session was increasing transportation funding. Nine weeks later, we are 10 business days from the target adjournment date and not one transportation funding measure has cleared even one committee hearing.
The closest they’ve come is three languishing bills that would raise revenue for roads. One raids the education budget to pay for it, one raises fuel taxes, and one paves our roads with the bodies of Idahoans in the Medicaid gap.
In the meantime, Republicans have asked the federal government to prevent states from creating GMO labeling requirements and voted to eliminate eminent domain for municipalities when they build bike paths and trails.
So much for being anti-federal government and pro-local control.
Not every lawmaker has been happy with the proceedings. Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll (R-Cottonwood) complained that a bill requiring teenagers to get their parents’ permission before using a tanning bed was an affront to parental rights.
“Where do we stop!” she shrieked. Then she set fire to a copy of 50 Shades of Grey.
On a scale between “1” and “10,” with “10” being a productive legislative session and “1” being a disaster, this year’s legislature is scoring a solid “WTF.”
Thus far it has moved one bill setting the rules for an imaginary Article V convention further than all transportation and education funding bills combined. That track record would embarrass Sen. Jim Inhofe and nothing embarrasses Sen. Jim Inhofe.
Obviously, legislators aren’t going home on March 27. For every day extra they remain in Boise, the taxpayers of Idaho fork out $30,000 – or as lawmakers call it, “Three days of lawyer fees.”
There is a rumor that the new target for adjournment is April 1.
I think that’s a good goal.
April Fool’s Day is appropriate.