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Patrick scores victory for Idaho workers, consumers

Patrick scores victory for Idaho workers, consumers

Wayne Hoffman
March 24, 2017
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March 24, 2017

Jim Patrick went to the mat for Idaho’s makeup artists, for that he’s a champion. Patrick is the Republican chairman of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee.  Several weeks ago he had scheduled a March 21 meeting to hear a House-passed bill that would update the archaic state cosmetology regulations.

Makeup artists and other cosmetology professionals took time off from work, rescheduled appointments, turned down clients, bought airplane tickets and rented hotel rooms to attend the hearing in Boise and voice their opinions regarding House Bill 139. They wrote out testimony, practiced their remarks and took to social media, inviting their friends and customers to attend.

But on the very morning of the meeting, the bill was pulled from consideration. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis unilaterally made the decision. He said there wasn’t enough time to consider the measure, that the only bills that would be heard were the ones that moved the Legislature closer to adjournment. Davis argued, if Patrick wanted the cosmetology bill heard, he should have scheduled it earlier.

Maybe so. But jobs, careers and income streams were on the line. If House Bill 139 doesn’t pass, dozens of makeup artists -- who providing services at weddings, beauty pageants, fitness competitions and movie sets -- would be prohibited from doing so. The mall kiosks where curling irons are demonstrated and sold would be prohibited from operating. The workers who use their skills to earn a living would be forced to choose: find new work or practice their trade in contravention of Idaho law.

From all accounts, Patrick decided it wasn’t right that the bill was scheduled for a hearing and summarily withdrawn from the meeting agenda. After all, the committee meeting wasn’t canceled. It was just that only the governor’s unemployment insurance bill (which arguably should also have been considered far earlier in the session) was granted permission for a vote.  Was consideration of a second bill really going to prolong the legislative session? Doubtful.

We don’t know what happened behind closed doors, what Patrick said or did to get House Bill 139 back on track, but he did it. A new committee hearing was scheduled this past Wednesday, where the bill passed 7-2. The Senate considered the measure Thursday, where it passed 29-6. HB 139 now goes to the governor for his approval.

It’s hard enough to get people to take time out of their busy schedules, to travel from all parts of Idaho to Boise and make their case for or against legislation. It was wrong for the Senate to schedule a hearing and then cancel it less than six hours before it was to be held. The move showed little regard for real people who made real sacrifices to show up at the Statehouse for the meeting.  Even Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-Pocatello, who voted against the bill, noted that holding the hearing was the right thing to do.

Patrick, himself, very likely erred when he went along with the Senate leadership decision to pull House Bill 139 from consideration. But he quickly worked to right the mistake, and there are a lot of people grateful for his efforts and tenacity.

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