Rep. Luke Malek once said he hoped his law degree would “empower him to battle objectionable compliance with the status quo.”

A noble aim to be sure, but an unfulfilled goal for the second-term House member from Kootenai County.

Malek took a swing at the Idaho Freedom Foundation in an opinion piece Sunday, suggesting our Freedom Index, which measures how much legislators try to grow government, is somehow “corruptive.”

He didn’t stop there, saying the index is used only for promoting political obedience. “This obedience flies in the face of the independence that Idahoans are known for, but the threats work,” Malek wrote.

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If he were genuinely concerned about the independence of Idaho, Malek would be a great ally to the principles of liberty. And he would have asked, as we did, that real protections and legislative oversight be added to the child support bill during Monday’s special session.

No lawmaker in recent memory has made such a name for himself by bowing to the federal government and risking the futures and fortunes of Idaho families.

Harken back to Idaho’s debate on bringing Obamacare to Idaho. Malek, an upstart freshman with good looks and a sharp smile, stood in front of the cameras and hailed the Obamacare insurance exchange as some sort of Idaho solution. Using contorted logic, he brought more federal control — not less — to Idaho. Because of his “obedience” to his masters in Washington, D. C., Idaho got an Obamacare insurance exchange while other states bravely fought on.

And this year, when several state lawmakers proposed letting parents use a non-hallucinogenic cannabis-based oil to help children with a deadly form of epilepsy, Malek told his colleagues in the Legislature that Idahoans shouldn’t be “allowed” to treat disease in a way that is disobedient to the federal government’s mandates.

Then, on the Uniform Child Support Issue, Malek leads on grandstanding before the press in another act of political obedience and compliance to the federal agenda.

He asserts IFF is somehow holding hostage federal support for health and welfare programs critical to Idaho families. He forgets that we at IFF have offered a way for the Legislature to protect its citizens and state sovereignty while continuing our participation in interstate child support enforcement.

Many legislators, including Malek, fondly bash the federal government on the campaign stump. Then, they turn right around and take federal money for this program or that initiative, or gladly yield to the federal government’s demands.

Our unique system of government that gives states unique and separate powers from the federal government is what is being undermined when a state gives into federal blandishments. When Congress demands obedience from all 50 states—and gets it—the foundational structure of our system of government has been imperiled.

The federal government wants all 50 states to pass legislation verbatim and with no structural changes to bill. If states don’t comply, the feds will rip millions in funding from Idaho’s needy families.

Remind me: Who’s taking hostages? Who is demanding obedience?

Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. Legislators like Malek talk a good game at home, but fail the courage test. They cannot envision an Idaho that’s less reliant on the federal government and more sustainable and prepared. Money talks and bringing home the bucks seems more important to some than distancing Idaho from the whims of the federal agenda.

Malek once railed against the federal government “leading through fear.” We agree that’s no way to guide government. Needy Idahoans shouldn’t live in fear of losing vital help every time the federal government invents a crisis.

Idahoans deserve better than that.

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