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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outside View: We’re witnessing an Idaho Republican legislative agenda based on fear and loathing

Idaho Statesman editorial board

By Idaho Statesman editorial board

If Idaho’s Republican legislators show their priorities by what they address in the opening weeks of the session, the message is clear: They’re scared, and they’re against a lot of things. They’re scared of gay people, teenagers, drag shows, home invaders, unisex bathrooms and immigrants.

So far, Idaho Republican legislators have introduced bills that would

• prevent the city of Boise from sponsoring the Boise Pride Festival,

• criminally punish someone filing a false claim of child abuse,

• prohibit the state from requiring contractors to provide restroom facilities accommodations for transgender residents,

• tell cities which laws to prioritize for enforcement,

• expand stand-your-ground laws, making it easier to kill someone in your house,

• make sure parents know they don’t have to get their kids immunized to go to day care,

• prevent so-called “sanctuary cities,”

• prohibit colleges and university officials from banning guns on campuses and

• ban state health officials from recommending the COVID-19 vaccine or taking other public health safety measures.

Two legislators, Reps. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, and Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, apparently are even afraid of children, banning them from testifying in committee unless invited.

One thing Republican legislators apparently are not afraid of is militias. One bill would eliminate regulations of militias.

One legislator even introduced a bill that would require slow vehicles to pull off to the side of the road.

And here we thought the big problems facing Idaho were things like skyrocketing residential property taxes, deteriorating school buildings, disappearing farmland, housing Idaho prisoners out of state, affordable housing, homelessness, things like that.

OK, we have seen a bill to expand the Idaho Launch scholarship program, which Gov. Brad Little proposed in his budget. So at least that’s something that actually seeks to address a real problem we have in Idaho.

We didn’t even know half of these things were problems to begin with, let alone problems that are so dire that legislators need to pass a bill in the first few days of the session.

Every year, it’s a head-scratcher to see what “problems” some of these legislators come to town so eager to allegedly solve.

It seems they’ve been champing at the bit all year long, cooking up their “solutions” to imaginary problems with bills that just seem to waste time and embarrass Idaho.

Unfortunately, legislators won’t have to wait all year to pitch bills, as Idaho voters gave them permission to call themselves back into session for whatever reason at any time.

We wish legislators were more afraid of rising property taxes, when it seems like they’re afraid of doing their job, which is taking care of the people’s business.

Compare their priorities with what voters say are their priorities, according to the Idaho Public Policy Survey, released last week: education (72%); jobs and the economy (64%); housing (61%); health care (60%); taxes (54%); environment (52%); transportation (42%).

We don’t see taking away transgender rights or suppressing free speech on that list.

We wish these legislators would spend their time more wisely and pass legislation that addresses real problems. We see what they’re afraid of and what they’re against.

What are they actually for?