One of the worst bills of the week is so crafty, it might just pass. Which would be really bad for Idaho because it would fundamentally change what the state Legislature is all about.
Rep. Linden Bateman's, R-Idaho Falls, House Bill 379 would create a teacher's award. Bateman is the author of last year's bill to require cursive writing. Bateman thinks the world of teachers. He happens to be one. He correctly thinks educators deserve more recognition.
Here's where his idea gets screwy: This monetary award would be given out by all 105 legislators. To be clear: For the first time that I am aware, Idaho lawmakers would be directly involved in dispensing money and favors into their districts. Not in Idaho. At least not yet. And wait what comes next: Today, the award is $500; tomorrow it will be $1,000. Sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, the amount will go up.
And as long as we are awarding teachers, how long will it be before lawmakers agree to recognize firefighters, police officers and other public servants? The number of beneficiaries will only increase.
So will the questions. Are certain campaign contributors, supporters or allies getting the award? Out of 105 lawmakers, you can bet at least one will use questionable criteria to make his or her selection. And that's all it takes to undermine confidence in the program.
Bateman means well with his award idea. He just wants to recognize great teachers. We all do. A nice, handwritten note in cursive would be a better start.
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