As many of you did, I expected this session of the Idaho Legislature to be over by now. I know that I am ready for it to be over. Ready to breathe a collective sigh of relief and take time to evaluate the full impact of this legislative session on our daily lives. I wonder how many of us are actually better off than we were before the session started? How is your life better today than it was before the session started? How is it worse? Are you satisfied? Could more have been done?
How should we judge the Legislature? It actually reminds me of a time when someone asked me for a recommendation for an attorney to help them in a dispute with another business. I recommended a fine lawyer who practiced out of his home (basement to be exact).
I asked my friend a few weeks later how it went. When he mentioned that he had lost, I said: “Oh, I am sorry to hear that. I have never been unhappy with the outcome from the attorney I recommended, but I suppose every case is different.”
My friend curtly replied: “You sent me to a lousy attorney. He works out of his basement. I would never have hired him. I went with an attorney downtown in a big office at a large firm.”
And lost. I guess that my mistake was that I thought my friend was looking for an attorney to win his case. I would have recommended someone else had I known his primary criteria was the look and feel of the office. You see, to me, the good attorney is the one who achieves your goals, not just someone who has the right look.
I feel that is where we are with our Legislature. We have single-party control of the branches of the state government. We keep “hiring” them because they look the part, mainly they have the “right” letter after their name. However, if we are honest, can we say that they achieving our goals?
We agree that our children are our number one priority and that our schools should be funded and should prepare our children so that they can thrive in our ever-changing world. We agree that all Idahoans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We agree that our property taxes are too high and that some of our most vulnerable citizens are being taxed out of their homes. We seem to always agree that we think that all Idahoans should be able to work in a job that pays enough for them to be self-sufficient and support their families.
Then the session ends, and there never seems to make any progress. None of the things that actually make our lives better or meets our needs comes to be. Perhaps it is time for us to look at our criteria. What is more important? Maintaining single-party control or improving the lives of Idahoans?
David Roth is vice chair of Legislative District 33 of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.