North Idaho has as much standing with the Idaho Legislature as a Third World country without oil reserves.
The potato farmers in charge know little about mountains, great bodies of water and growth. So, they ignore problems of the north - until they need votes for statewide office.
Meanwhile, North Idaho legislators struggle to be heard - even this year when half of them are Republicans.
In fact, the Legislature’s benevolent dictators seem to be ignoring North Idaho more this year than ever. And the region’s new Republican lawmakers appear content to go along with them.
As a result, legislation important to North Idaho has gone begging.
On Monday, the Senate torpedoed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Mary Lou Reed, D-Coeur d’Alene, that would have tightened safety rules for Jet Skis. Jet Skis comprise 8 percent of the state’s vessels but are involved in 30 percent of the waterways’ accidents.
Kootenai County easily has the most registered Jet Skiers in the state with 1,147 owners.
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, whose home county has only 40 registered Jet Skis, paraded his ignorance when he offered this eulogy for Reed’s bill: “In my opinion, you can’t legislate responsibility.”
Huh? It happens all the time. Do you suppose Cameron ever has heard of speed limits and seat belt laws?
Also, state Sen. Jerry Thorne, R-Nampa, is hinting darkly that a bill to allow impact fees outside Ada County will die in his Local Government and Taxation Committee. Coeur d’Alene, Hayden and Post Falls desperately need impact fees to keep up with growth.
But that doesn’t seem to matter to Thorne.
Finally, in the House on Tuesday, the Revenue and Taxation Committee rejected a change in the distribution formula for sales tax revenue. Kootenai County Clerk Tom Taggart rightly claims the old formula, established in the mid-1960s, penalizes booming counties such as Bonner and Kootenai while helping those with stagnant economies.
Typically, state Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, took a let-themeat-cake attitude toward this North Idaho problem: “Maybe it’s not fair,” she said. “But it’s fair from my viewpoint.”
North Idahoans need to remember this kind of attitude next time a southern Idaho Republican comes courtin’ their votes.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board