The 2021 Republican legislative supermajority is working at a dizzying pace on bills that would take power from you, make decisions for you about your health care, decrease tax equity and ignore the priority needs of Idaho families.
Senate Bill 1110 would “silence the voice of people” in Idaho by putting our enshrined initiative process out of reach of most Idahoans. Signature gathering requirements under this bill would become the most difficult in the nation and likely could be achieved only by corporate interests paying people to gather signatures.
While SB 1110 would punish Idahoans after their impressive Medicaid expansion initiative victory in 2018, House Bill 223 exacts vengeance against Idaho voters for their record early and absentee voting in the 2020 election during the pandemic. HB 223 would make it a felony to deliver a ballot to the Elections Office for the elderly, disabled, a care facility resident, friend, neighbor or someone living on a reservation. House Majority Leader Mike Moyle has pushed this bill by proclaiming that “voting shouldn’t be easy.”
Student voting rights also are under siege. HB 219 would stop the use of student IDs to vote, which would even further lower youth voting. By contrast, SB 1069, sponsored by House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, would strengthen your voting right. Under that bill, if your mail-in ballot is disqualified because of ballot signature issues, the election official would have to notify you based on uniform statewide notification requirements.
If you’ve seen a family member writhe in agony from cancer, you’re probably one of the nearly 80% of Idahoans who support legalizing medical cannabis. Senate Joint Resolution 101 not only disregards that pain but would permanently ban any psychoactive drug not legal by July of 2021 through a constitutional amendment. But bipartisan HB 108 sponsored by Rubel and others would allow people 21 or older with medical conditions to obtain a medical cannabis card valid for one year. The bill, called the Sergeant Kitzhaber Medical Cannabis Act, is named for a 22-year Air Force veteran with terminal cancer who was exposed to radioactive material while serving his country.
Gov. Little’s Building Idaho’s Future program doesn’t approach adequately investing in Idaho. He proposes $450 million in tax cuts with only a pittance going toward Idaho public education starved for funding at 51st in the nation and our crumbling transportation infrastructure that you and I drive on.
Moyle and others propose HB 199, which would eliminate the grocery tax credit, nominally lower the sales tax, and reduce individual and corporate income taxes. It would provide large cuts for people making more than $103,000, nominal cuts for everyone else and would knock out the state budget with nearly $300 million in lost revenue annually after the first year. However, a laudable Democrat plan would repeal the grocery tax and replace it with Internet sales revenue. But, alas, Moyle wouldn’t allow the Democrats’ bill to be introduced.
The 19 Democratic legislators are working furiously to defend your rights and help Idaho families. When will you say enough and vote to protect the interests of your family?
Pat Tucker is the chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Party Central Committee.