Greetings from the Capital. We have completed our fourth week of the 2019 legislative session and the administrative rules process is nearly complete.
The rules we are reviewing are the proposed rules written by the executive branch of government throughout the summer and fall when the Legislature is not in session. These are the same rules that I continually encourage you to get involved in and provide comments for or against. It is no surprise how government constantly creeps into our lives when the executive branch and the bureaucrats have nine months to draft volumes of new laws, rules and regulations. The Legislature gets a mere three to four weeks to attempt to review, decipher, understand, debate and finally vote on all these proposed rules. In my opinion, things appear pretty lopsided in favor of the government, not the governed.
Thousands of pages of rules have been presented to legislators with brief summaries and citizen comments included in support or opposition. No opposition, or a lack of comments from the public, is generally viewed as “support” by the bureaucrats, which is a poor way for a republic to function. Apathy replacing action can only lead to loss of sovereignty and individual freedoms. The committees are the last real opportunity to reject or approve the administrative rules. Once approved, these rules have the full force of law. If one legislative body (House or Senate) committee rejects a rule, it can be moved to the other body, approved and becomes law.
Government 101: It takes two legislative bodies to reject a rule but only one to approve it. The Legislature is currently looking into language to change this procedure which I believe is long overdue.
Some of the best news of the week was the signing of two executive orders by Gov. Brad Little. The “Red Tape Reduction Act,” requires state bureaucratic agencies that create rules to identify at least two existing rules to be repealed or significantly simplified for every one rule they propose. The “Licensing Freedom Act of 2019,” puts in place sunrise and sunset processes for future occupational licensing laws. This order will improve, modify, or eliminate licensing requirements or other regulatory burdens.
Both of these orders will reign in a bloated bureaucracy by simplifying governance on the citizens.
In addition to the rules, close to 150 bills have been introduced. This number will likely double by mid-February.
Below is a short list of bills, drafts and RSs that may interest you:
• Idaho Abortion Human Rights Act: Representative John Green and myself have released a Draft of our Abortion Human Rights bill last week. This bill would end abortion in Idaho. You can read more about the draft legislation by visiting my Facebook site: Representative Heather Scott
• Marsy’s law: This is a constitutional change being proposed by a California billionaire (Marsy’s Law founder) whose questionable reputation was really marred after being arrested on drug trafficking charges this past summer in Las Vegas. While billions of his dollars may buy lots of advertising, lobbyists and influence, I am hopeful that it cannot buy a change to our Idaho Constitution that could bankrupt rural counties through serial litigation. This bill has failed in the past.
• Article 5 convention: While the Republican central committees from across the state continue to say no to an Article 5 convention, there is rumor around the Capitol that it will be re-introduced again this year.
• Medicaid expansion funding: Many argue that expanding Medicaid is the pathway to socialized medicine, while others claim it is a humane governmental policy. This week the Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the recent citizen’s initiative Prop 2, referred to as Meidcaid expansion. Eventually we will have to make some hard choices on if and how Medicaid expansion can be funded because there is a limited pot of taxpayer provided funds for all of the state programs. This will be a hot topic in the coming weeks.
• Budget bills: All budgeting for legislation comes through the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. By the time most legislators get to vote on the final appropriation package, it is in an all-or -nothing simplified bill on the House floor. Unfortunately, this process has not allowed agency policies to be reviewed in detail, only their spending. This year is the first year in five years that committees have been given a glimpse of what is being proposed for the appropriation and a glimpse of these policies. While this is not enough, it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully this process continues to expand in the future to educate legislators and citizens and to help rein in out-of-control unchecked spending by agencies.
• Gun rights/red flag laws: There is a draft gun bill to expand constitutional carry in our state sponsored by Rep. Christy Zito. I am a co-signer on this bill. There has been much buzz about red flag laws — laws which remove guns from citizens without due process. I will vote against any bill that attempts to infringe on our right to bear arms, regardless of how well the intentions of the bill may be.
Please stay tuned for updates on the progress of upcoming bills. Don’t forget to visit the website Growing Freedom Idaho to review of all House proposed bills and what committees they are sitting in. There is a way to contact House members in the various committees and let them know your thoughts on the bills. You can enter bill ideas, share your concerns, or enter suspected government corruption or fraud tips. There is also a tab titled “It’s Your Money” where you can see how your tax dollar are being spent by the various agencies. The web address is GrowingFreedomIdaho.com
Rep. Heather Scott represents Bonner and Boundary counties in the Idaho Legislature in District 1A. She can be reached at email@example.com.