BOISE – As Idaho’s legislative session lumbered into its final week and April Fools’ Day arrived and went, I was pushed, as they say, from bad to verse. So here’s this year’s Legislative Limerick No. 1:
At the Circus
While one side is slowing it down
The other just wants to leave town.
So read all the bills
Till we’re blue in the gills
And wait till they send in the clowns.
Fishing for whoppers
(On HB 193a, the bill designed to block lawsuits over megaloads on Idaho highways: )
Fishing for whoppers?
You’ll find your fill
When Idaho lawmakers
Debate this one bill.
While obstacles shrink,
History does flip-flops
And numbers just kink.
But as for a lawsuit
On a big megaload
Don’t give us no facts
Just git down the road.
The voters might want to weigh in
And that would be, oh, such a sin
We’ll burden the laws
With emergency clause
And then we’ll be sure that we win.
The R’s and the D’s
They won’t ban drivers who text
And health care reform makes them vexed.
Their right is to farm
Their students they arm
Your budget is what they’ll cut next.
Objections don’t stick in their throats
Nor loss after loss get their goats
Rather than cut
They’d revenue up
But they simply don’t have enough votes.
The Citizen Legislature
You may talk as quickly as Moyle
Or favor the Ruschean pause
If you’ve got ideas that can fix things
Then you can come here and make up the laws.
Don’t think that change will come easy
Or you’ll think the outcome is right
But if you don’t like how it’s going
You might want to bring your own fight.
That’s how it works in the Statehouse
Farmers, biz folks, retirees
Doctors, cops, lawyers and Realtors
Compromise, jockey, appease.
The lawmaking often is messy
And lives are affected each day
The voters decide who comes down here
So make sure that you have your say.
Legislature ‘run amok’
House Democrats called a press conference to share their views of this year’s legislative session, and Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “In the exercise of absolute power the Republicans bullied, blustered and bungled their way through an extremist agenda that suggests to us that they are out of touch with average Idahoans.”
He continued, “For the last three months, reasonable discourse was discouraged, independent thinking was punished. Extremism was rewarded. … And Republican leadership didn’t listen. They didn’t listen to us, they didn’t listen to dissenting voices in their own party, and they certainly didn’t listen to the people of Idaho. This is a Legislature that has run amok, with no accountability to the people.”
They didn’t endorse
When Gov. Butch Otter opened his signing ceremony Friday on SB 1184, the school technology and online learning bill, he began by recalling consulting with the Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence, a group of business leaders, when he first became governor. “I think we will have fulfilled the vision of the IBCEE,” Otter declared. However, when asked if that group had endorsed SB 1184, Otter said, “I don’t know.”
In fact, asked that same question, Christine Donnell, IBCEE executive director, said, “No, they didn’t. It came along pretty quickly after the first two of (schools superintendent) Tom Luna’s reform bills went through. We had not had a meeting; we didn’t feel like we had vetted the changes very well in terms of explaining it to our members and getting their feedback, so we just didn’t take a position on it at all.”
The business group testified in favor of the first two reform bills in the Otter/Luna package, but not SB 1184. “IBCEE’s membership just said we strongly support reform,” Donnell said. “They did not want to get into the details of it, did not want to take a position on how many online courses, or the whole issue about the technology, class sizes, none of it. They just said they strongly supported the Students Come First plan, but just not into the details.”
All for nothing
The House scrambled on the final day of this year’s session to introduce, debate and narrowly pass a new bill to lift the cap on how many charter schools can be created each year – it’s now six – but it was all for naught; the Senate never considered it. For its part, the House let die a Senate-passed measure to step up anti-bullying efforts in the state that was the subject of lengthy hearings.