Rep. Steven Thayn’s bill to pay Idaho parents for not sending their children to public kindergarten, HB 25, has been dumped unceremoniously into the House Ways & Means Committee, where it’s unlikely to get a hearing. House Speaker Lawerence Denney said he made the move for “just the same reason as the rest of ‘em - if it’s a good idea, he can get it printed in a germane committee.” Denney earlier assigned Rep. Branden Durst’s local-option tax bill and Reps. George Eskridge and Eric Anderson’s property tax value limitation bill to the same fate; today, he sent two more personal bills to the leadership committee, which rarely meets.
Interestingly, Boise State University political scientist Gary Moncrief says the hurdles to introduction of bills in the Idaho Legislature are pretty much unique to Idaho; in most states, any legislator can easily introduce a bill. “No other state legislature operates in quite this manner, and only Connecticut does anything at all like it,” Moncrief wrote this week in a blog post. “It means committees in Idaho are given extraordinary power. The advantage is that the committees are able to get rid of some proposals that probably weren’t going to pass anyway. In a legislature that averages almost 700 bill introductions but only about 80 days in session a year, that’s probably a good thing; it keeps the legislature from wasting time on legislation that is dead-on-arrival. The downside of this system is that some issues just don’t get heard.”
Moncrief said a few years ago, he tracked the percentage of bills in the Idaho Legislature that passed. Fifty to 60 percent of regular bills passed, but only 5 to 10 percent of personal bills.