How do you pretend to fix something without doing anything at all? We’re about to find out.

Now that a special legislative session is scheduled for May 18 to fix the mess right-wing Republicans created, we’re learning more about their plan to save face.

That’s a big project after nine members of the House Judiciary Committee voted down a bill that provides $205 million in child-support payments to Idaho families every year.

So what’s the plan?

In a letter sent to Gov. Otter on Monday, April 27, House Speaker Scott Bedke said Reps. Luker, Trujillo, Kerby and Dayley — all members of the Judiciary Committee who voted against the bill — have drafted amendments to the bill that will “…deal with due process considerations and security of personal information.”

Let me translate: The four lawmakers are trying to make it look like they’ve actually done something other than kowtowing to xenophobic paranoia.

Remember, the lawmakers can’t change the bill too much, or it won’t comply with federal legislation. In other words, they have to change the bill to make it look like they did something without actually doing anything.

Put plainly, this is all window dressing for right-wing Republicans to pretend they did two things:

  1.  Protected their constituents from the big bad government
  2.  Solved a problem

But they did neither. The bill can’t be substantively changed. And these are the same people who created the problem in the first place.

Why then is Speaker Bedke giving extremists in his party political cover? Either he doesn’t have the votes to pass the bill without them or he’s trying to protect the Republican brand. In the first case, that’s scary — it means the House GOP is a plurality of delusional hardliners. In the second, that’s sad — it means the state GOP won’t take a stand against its extremists.

Either way, GOP hardliners, not the governor, seem to be in control of this mess. Otter scheduled the press conference to announce the special session only after he received the letter from Bedke saying the four lawmakers had made their “fixes.”

Bedke didn’t even bother showing up for the press conference. It doesn’t matter, Luker, Trujillo, Kerby and Dayley were there in spirit.

Derek Farr
Executive Director
Better Idaho