The Idaho House of Representatives voted on two bills today, each of which can reveal something of how our legislators view the proper role of government.
First up was House Bill 313, which would require all public schools to provide feminine hygiene products for students in grades 6-12 at the cost of nearly three-quarters of a million taxpayer dollars. Floor co-sponsor Rep. Rod Furniss said it was all about the “three Ps”: pee, poop, and periods, and that since public schools already paid for toilet paper and soap, they should also supply feminine hygiene products. Rep. Josh Wheeler added that providing these items was necessary to educate young women.
On the other side, Rep. Julianne Young added two more Ps: She said the bill was patronizing and reminded the body that parents are the ones tasked with taking care of their children’s basic needs. Rep. Heather Scott simply called the entire debate “embarrassing.”
Embarrassing is right. What’s next? Taxpayer-subsidized deodorant? Clothing? Housing?
The vote ended in a 35-35 tie, so the bill failed — for now. According to House rules it could be brought back with a motion to reconsider, so stay tuned!
After that vote, the House immediately took up debate on House Bill 314, which would close the loophole that allows teachers and librarians to distribute graphic and obscene materials to children. More than two hours of debate followed, which featured every excuse imaginable to keep such materials on the shelves.
Rep. Stephanie Mickelsen warned that this bill was just like book burnings in Mao’s China and Hitler’s Germany and that burning books always leads to burning people. Rep. Kenny Wroten argued that it was instead more like the Spanish Inquisition.
Most of the representatives who debated against the bill ignored the specific titles that IFF has found in Idaho public schools. Rep. Julie Yamamoto suggested this was akin to banning The Chronicles of Narnia, while Rep. Lori McCann said that this bill could ban classics such as Romeo and Juliet.
On the other hand, those who debated in favor of the bill were clear-eyed about what our children are really being exposed to. Rep. Julianne Young pointed out the hypocrisy of Yamamoto banning the reading of certain books in the House Education Committee despite saying on the House floor that the issue was too vague. Rep. Brandon Mitchell said that he had read some of the books in his daughter’s school library and was horrified by what he found. Rep. Josh Tanner said that it is the responsibility of the Legislature to deal with outright pornography in school libraries.
H.314 passed 40-30 and now moves on to the Senate.
There are many self-proclaimed conservatives who think that the proper role of government is to provide hygiene products to schoolchildren but not to protect those same children from outright pornography on library shelves. Tax dollars, they say, should be spent buying both tampons and Gender Queer. An exasperated Rep. Heather Scott asked, “Why are our schools so obsessed with the private parts of our children?”
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.