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Republican leadership squashes conservative policymaking, continuing a trend of establishment rule

Republican leadership squashes conservative policymaking, continuing a trend of establishment rule

Niklas Kleinworth
May 4, 2022
Niklas Kleinworth
Author Image
May 4, 2022

The 2022 legislative session saw the most personal bills introduced in nearly 25 years. Among these 62 bills was legislation key to furthering the conservative agenda. Yet none of them ever became law, moved between chambers, or even made it out of committee due to disfavor from the statist Republican leadership. 

Thus, we have another year under House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder’s reign where conservative policies were deemed radical and subsequently shut out. These policies included promoting freedom in education, defending second amendment rights, guaranteeing medical privacy, repealing the grocery tax, reducing federal dependency, and curbing unbridled spending. 

The problem is not that these policies are radical but that Republicans in leadership are not conservatives.

These policies are often proposed as personal bills because this type of legislation can be printed without the approval of a standing committee chairman. These bills go through an expedited process where they are automatically printed and given a bill number when they are introduced. However, the process stalls as they are sent to a leadership committee like the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate State Affairs Committee where they are forgotten, perpetuating the adage that these committees are where “good bills go to die.” 

Historically, it was not always this difficult to go around a hostile committee chairman. Once proven as an effective method of lawmaking, as much as 17% of personal bills received enough support to move between legislative bodies, and 11% advanced to become law since 1985.

Despite the prior success of using personal bills to advance legislation, only two (1.5% of all personal bills introduced) moved between chambers in the past decade. One explanation for this might be that members of these committees tend to have a significantly more statist vision for public policy in Idaho. The average Freedom Index scores for the Republican majority in the House Ways and Means and the Senate State Affairs committees are only 63% and 34%, respectively. 

The scores among standing committee chairmen are not much better than those in the two leadership committees. Two-thirds of all committee chairmen have a Freedom Index Score of 70% or worse, and 42% boast a failing grade of 60% or less. With such abysmal scores among those who make unilateral decisions over what bills get a hearing, it is no wonder why conservative lawmakers would take their chances introducing a personal bill instead of going through a standing committee.

When questioned about their lack of action on conservative legislation, leadership argues that holding bills in committee without a hearing — commonly known as “drawering” bills — is not malicious but a function of moderating legislation to prevent radical ideas from occupying the Legislature’s time. Though it is true that many leftist policies were drawered in committee this session, the following pieces of legislation also went unconsidered:

  • H0448: Grocery tax repeal
  • H0490: Firearm rights protections against federal overreach
  • H0491: Protections of personal medical information
  • H0502: An opt-in system for the statewide immunization registry
  • H0666: Protections against harmful sexual materials in museums, schools, and public libraries
  • H0675: Criminalization for performing sex changes on children
  • H0693: A ban on the use of absentee ballot drop boxes

It is difficult to argue that these policies are radical when many are goals featured in the 2022 Conservative Agenda. Policies like gun rights protections, grocery tax repeal, and preventing the sexualization of our children are strongly supported by Idahoans and are far from radical. 

Those who call policies like these “radical” are not conservatives at all, nor are they even Republicans. However, these same lawmakers understand that they cannot win an election in Idaho without being branded with the “R” next to their name on the ballot. Furthermore, these false Republicans are aware of the positive public sentiment for these policies but cannot curb their statist tendencies enough to vote for them. Their solution to this dilemma is to hide good policies in committee where they are out of sight of constituents.

The 2022 election cycle will likely shake up the leadership in the Idaho Legislature as redistricting pits long-time incumbents against one another and House Speaker Scott Bedke vacates his seat for someone else to preside over the chamber. At this point, it is difficult to know if such changes will allow for the honest consideration of more conservative policies in the 2023 legislative session. With this being the first major post-pandemic election, constituents will be more attuned to how their lawmakers’ decisions impact their freedoms. Moving forward, this changing attitude among Idahoans will make the practice of shutting out conservative legislation and substituting it with more statist alternatives a losing strategy.

View Comments
  • john livingston says:

    Great article.
    The issue is corruption and cronyism.

  • ? says:

    I agree with John Livingston.

  • Bobby W says:

    A question about the conservative leadership of McGeachin: If Brad Little leaves the state is she only able to take over for him during her office hours of Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10-2?
    Or does she get to suspend what she's doing now, campaigning during statorily-mandated office hours, to do "the work of the people"?

  • Bruce Hendricks says:

    It's quite evident that the establishment GOP doesn't give a fig about the average American. Gov. Small is a prime example of this as he clearly has been bought by corporations. The fact that he disdains repealing the highly regressive grocery tax is just one example of his disdain for the average Idahoan. Being corrupt and stupid, as Small is is a dangerous combination. Idaho is led by a bunch of pasty-faced good old boys. The GOP will need to be torn down and rebuilt so it represents America First values

  • enemyofthestate says:

    The offices of governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house are a revolving door for Republican good ole boys and cronies. They brook no opinions that would disturb their power.

  • Bruce Hendricks says:

    In follow up to my previous post, there is only do much that can be done through the political process to fight the tyranny that is rapidly advancing in America. So by all means vote for candidates that will stand for America First values, but much more needs to be done. Take back your city councils and school boards from deranged leftists. Make sure your local sheriff will tell the Feds local law enforcement will not cooperate with the corrupt FBI and other "law enforcement" agencies. Educate state legislators on the concept of nullification of Federal legislation such as gun confiscation, and usurpation of free speech, medical and religious liberty. Take back or establish parallel institutions such as schools and churches. In the end voting has never solved any problems. The option of not resisting tyranny is not available. Our civilization hangs in the balance.

    IFF needs to educate our rather unimpressive state legislators (with some notable exceptions) on the concept of nullification.

    • Bobby W says:

      Good luck, Bruce. Really, I mean it. Nullification was rejected as a viable legal theory in the very early 1800's. That's probably why you won't get many (any?) rallying with you.
      Maybe with the make-up of today's SCOTUS you'll have a shot at it. Glad to see somebody is willing to be a guinea pig for what they believe in.

  • KJ says:

    The simple truth is that the GOP in Idaho is a combination of Marxists and crony capitalists. No amount of voting will ever take them out. What will is bond money that you can go after.

    Another is THE FORCED REMOVAL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS by recalls. The third option, and the last I hope we never have to contemplate. But they are forcing that choice on us for they have victims that will protect them. That would be the state police. They JUST FOLLOW ORDERS and the reward is a small pension and a plastic gold badge.

    Weak men rule over us, insane men replace them in a devolving civilization.

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