Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Frantic lawmaking, poor decisions

Long legislative sessions leave lawmakers worn out, sometimes short tempered and always ready to close the session sine die and head home.

However, conducting business with overheated and inexcusably ugly language and acting frantic doesn't inspire public confidence or make sound decisions.

Rather than let courts decide the legality of the new federal health care law, the state Senate approved a bill to nullify the law in Idaho. The bill would stop the state from accepting federal funds to implement the law. Idaho's attorney general already calls the nullification unconstitutional.

Republican hysteria helped the bill's momentum. Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll flew into a flight of pure fantasy by claiming President Obama's health reform "sets up a wealth of programs in the home to take our children away from us, which is the same way the Nazis did." Where she read that in the law is an utter mystery.

In obvious panic about a public backlash, the state Senate also frantically rushed through the final phase of public schools chief Tom Luna's so-called education "reform" as "emergency" legislation. Lawmakers thereby headed off an immediate petition drive that would have blocked implementation of Luna's program until voters weighed in during the next general election in 2012. Opponents could still get the question before voters, but an initiative petition would not stop the state from going ahead with the law prior to the general election.

A larger question is, if Luna's program is really reform and good for Idaho education and students, why would lawmakers need an emergency clause to stop a petition drive to repeal it?

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