In representative government, Americans transfer their voices to elected officials, giving public figures the power to question, criticize and explain.
During Monday’s special session, Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, attempted to silence the voices of about 90,000 Idahoans.
Lodge chaired the joint committee meeting where the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare presented a new child support bill. After agency testimony, legislators had the opportunity to lob questions at agency staffers, queries that might assuage concerns, change mind and flip votes.
Sadly, Lodge had other ideas. After Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, peppered staffers with a few questions, the senator asked legislators to limit questions to two. Later in the hearing, Scott petitioned Lodge for two questions. Lodge allowed one.
Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, complained too, noting the cost of the special session -- about $40,000 -- requires thorough answers to all questions.
She wasn’t done there. After Bob Neugebauer’s testimony, Lodge fired back with new information. When Neugebauer tried to rebut the senator, she quickly cut him off.
In the joint hearing room, Lodge cut off and tried to silence three people, but she really did so much more. Scott and Nate represent, along with district colleagues, 45,000 Idahoans each. While all 45,000 in each of their districts might not have questions about the legislation, they elected Scott and Nate to be their voices in the Idaho Capitol.
Idahoans deserve an open hearing on this important issue. All questions should come forward before lawmakers consider their positions on this legislation.
The state deserves a fair hearing. Lodge isn't allowing that.
Update: On Facebook, Scott offered this take:
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