Idaho Republicans at their state convention now formally back Arizona’s new illegal immigration law, using the Bible as a teaching tool in public schools, lowering the state’s corporate income tax, and many other issues.
The Idaho State Republican Convention passed two dozen resolutions spanning a variety of policy topics. The resolutions along with the party platform, took up most of the official business of the convention. The resolutions will be distributed to Republican state lawmakers, some of whom voiced their concerns for the proposals that are now part of the party agenda.
“I opposed almost all of them,” said Senate President Pro Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs. “Many of those resolutions send a message, but they certainly can’t be contemplated that they can be implemented as the party has proposed them.” Geddes said many of the proposals show Idaho Republicans’ dissatisfaction with the federal government.
Many resolutions were deemed uncontroversial and passed without debate by the full convention. Those included plans supporting Arizona’s new illegal immigration legislation, opposing any federal health care mandate, and calling the notion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant “junk science.”
Other ideas approved by the convention include charging inmates in state prisons for their room and board, not requiring citizens to get permits to carry a concealed weapon, and allowing Idaho citizens to pay their taxes with gold or silver.
“We are pushing for state sovereignty and state’s rights,” said Chris Stevens, a former legislative candidate from Pocatello who served on the committee that approved the resolutions.
Some resolutions failed
The convention delegates rejected just two of the 24 resolutions. One would have asked state lawmakers to set up an unregulated militia. Guy Mongan, the chair of the Butte County Republican Party backed the plan, saying it would assist the state during disasters.
“It’s to be an all-volunteer organization to assist the state of Idaho, especially when the National Guard is called from the state,” he said.
Opponents said the plan could cost the state money during difficult economic times.
The other unsuccessful resolution would have thwarted future attempts by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission to remove a school’s charter if it faces economic hardship. The commission revoked Nampa Classical Academy’s charter on Thursday.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, a proponent of charter schools, opposed the plan because it would hold charter schools to a different standard than traditional public schools. “We have to hold all schools accountable at the same level of accountability, in good times and bad,” Luna said.
Reaction from lawmakers
Several Republican state lawmakers pleaded with delegates to say no to a resolution opposing two constitutional amendments that will be on the November election ballot. The amendments would allow publicly-backed airports and hospitals to incur debt without requiring a public vote.
Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, said that the resolution is like sticking their finger in the eyes of Republican lawmakers that voted for the amendments. Both the Idaho House and Senate approved the amendments by a two-thirds majority.
Supporters of the resolution said that citizens should get to vote on whether public entities take on debt, which is the current requirement. House Speaker Lawrence Denney, R-Midvale, said lawmakers vetted the issue, and that taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook to repay any debt that a hospital or airport sustains.
Denney said that while not all the resolutions are practical, they inform state lawmakers of how the party’s base feels. “There are some that we can probably act on, and there are some that we probably can’t,” he said.