Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, has introduced legislation to eliminate the Idaho Women’s Commission, a state agency whose existence long has been controversial. “Thirty-nine years ago they were set out to get women to be more involved in social, political and economic areas of their communities,” Broadsword said, “and I think they’ve been very successful. Women are involved in everything these days. … I feel the commission has served its purpose, and it’s not something that needs to be funded by state dollars any longer, especially in this time of economic downturn.”
Broadsword presented her bill to the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning, along with another to eliminate a never-funded state advisory committee on youth education. That group, enacted by law in 1992, was supposed to run radio and TV ads against drug and alcohol abuse among youth. Broadsword said it was never funded, and other groups are doing that now. The panel agreed to introduce both bills, but the two Democrats on the committee voted against the bill to eliminate the Women’s Commission, and Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, called it a “Draconian measure.” But Broadsword said she’s had support from other lawmakers from both parties for the move. The Women’s Commission may do valuable things, she said, but if so, they don’t match what it was originally set up in law to do, and its statue may need to be “revamped.” Broadsword said, “Folks in my area didn’t even know there was one.”
The legislation establishing the commission was line-item vetoed by Gov. Don Samuelson in 1970, Broadsword said, but it eventually came into being because “there was a need at that time. Times have changed.” She added, “It’s a new day - this isn’t the 1970s any more. Women are, they’ve entered the 21st century and they’re a contributing partner if not a driving force in all areas of life.” Both of Broadsword’s bills, she said, are part of work she’s been doing with Gov. Butch Otter’s staff to look at state boards or commissions that have become obsolete and should be eliminated. The governor has found “eight or 10” that were established by executive order and he can just eliminate on his own, she said, including the science and technology advisory council, the manufactured home park advisory council (“They’ve submitted their report,” Broadsword said), the roadless rule task force (“It’s served its purpose”), the Governor’s Council on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (“they’re already inactive”), and several that have been rolled into other groups, including the Idaho Council on Children’s Mental Health and the Suicide Prevention Council.
Broadsword said, “I think we need to find every penny we can. We’re cutting programs that have long-term consequences, and funding things that are not necessary for the state as a whole is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”