The Idaho Way: What Idaho school voucher supporters don’t want you to know | Opinion
By Scott McIntosh, opinion editor
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The Idaho Senate Education Committee on Tuesday agreed to print a bill that would bring school vouchers to Idaho.
Idaho Sen. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, introduced the bill, the “Freedom In Education Savings Accounts,” which would allow Idaho families to collect taxpayer dollars to use for private school tuition. It’s just cut-and-paste legislation from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.
If approved, Idaho wouldn’t be the first state to have vouchers. Other states, such as Wisconsin, Indiana and Arizona, have had vouchers for several years. Utah legislators are considering a school voucher system.
“This legislation has been modeled after Arizona, with 10 years of experience and is considered the gold standard being used by most other states,” Nichols said in introducing her bill.
Take a look at Arizona’s experience to see what’s in store for Idaho if this bill becomes law.
Read the full editorial here on pitfalls of Arizona’s voucher system.
Eliminate marriage licenses?
Idaho Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, has been on a tear in the opening weeks of the legislative session, coming out with pointless bills that address imaginary problems but hit hot-button issues for Idaho’s right-wing contingent: guns, abortion, voting and transgender rights.
His latest is a proposal to eliminate marriage licenses.
Senate Bill 1025 would eliminate the requirement for a state marriage license and replace it with the recording of a marriage certificate with the county recorder. In essence, it gets the state out of the marriage business.
Herndon tried to assure the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee that it has nothing to do with gay marriage when he introduced the bill on Jan. 25.
“I will just tell the committee right away that we’re not changing anything about the qualifications of who marries in the state of Idaho in this legislation,” Herndon told the committee. “And this legislation actually has no political motivation.”
Yeah, right. Read my column here on why we should doubt that statement.
Idaho Republicans are down on OPE
Idaho Republican legislators are trying to neuter an important office that conducts independent, nonpartisan evaluations of government functions.
House Majority Leader Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, on Wednesday morning introduced a bill to eliminate the bipartisan Joint Legislative Oversight Committee and put the Office of Performance Evaluations under the jurisdiction of the partisan Legislative Council.
North Carolina made a similar change two years ago. So how’s it going?
“The thing has disappeared,” the office’s former director told me in my latest column.
Rush to cut taxes
Flush with cash, too many states across the country are making decisions that could set them up for failure when times get bad again.
“It’s already clear that policymakers in many states are pushing the same kind of big, wasteful tax cuts that we saw so many states previously enact over the past two years,” Wes Tharpe, deputy director of state policy research for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said on a recent press call.
Read my full column here on a warning for states like Idaho not to cut too deeply.
Armed revolution! Dogs beware
Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, recently made an appearance on a right-wing livestreamed video about the virtues of the Second Amendment, writes Idaho Statesman opinion writer Bryan Clark.
He bragged about the commitment of the Idaho Freedom Caucus to a conservative agenda. The Idaho Freedom Caucus is a far-right group that promotes bad policy, but it was all normal stuff for a lawmaker of Herndon’s ideological bent.
He said he was confident that he and other senators of similar ideology could force a hearing on an education savings account (code for vouchers) bill in the Senate Education Committee.
But Herndon couldn’t resist an opportunity for a little chest pounding.
Why do we have a Second Amendment? For when the government so ignores the will of the people that they can stand it no longer. For when there is no other option than to cast off the chains of an oppressive government.
For when … Senate Education Chairman David Lent, R-Idaho Falls, refuses to hold a hearing on Herndon’s preferred version of a voucher bill?
Read Bryan’s full column here on that time Herndon shot a little black dog in the back.
Now that the Idaho Legislature is back in session, Idaho Statesman reporter Ryan Suppe and politics editor Hayat Norimine have you covered, keeping you updated on each day’s happenings and what to expect for the upcoming day.
Plus, I throw in our astute politics observations and opinions on a daily basis.
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This week, we received letters to the editor on Sen. Dan Foreman’s bill to repeal militia regulations, a siphon in Priest Lake, testimony from minors and the Caldwell school board. You can read these and more letters by clicking here.
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