In reviewing the Legislative Session of the House and Senate timeframes and the Governor’s time log on HB 138, one has a lot of thoughts and has to ask a lot of questions by starting at the very beginning.
In 2012, at the request of the Republican Party, Legislation was passed to change the Presidential Primary from May to March. At the time, Governor Little was Lt. Governor and Lt. Governor Bedke was in the House of Representatives. Both should have remembered this event and the reasons for making the change. The question now is why change back to May? Secretary of State, Phil McGrane, stated the reason was to save the cost of running a separate Primary once every four years. He either forgot or didn’t know the reason for the March Primary was to be early enough in the voting cycle that Presidential candidates would come to Idaho to campaign instead of totally bypassing our small population State. It has worked well. Numerous Presidential candidates have campaigned in Idaho, bringing in money for lodging, food, venues, and advertising as well as exposure to our State and businesses on the National scene. The money and exposure for our State far outweigh the cost of the election.
When Phil McGrane first came up with the idea to move the Presidential Primary from March to May, why didn’t he discuss it with the Republican State Central Committee when they met in Boise in January? Why didn’t he try to build consensus and support within his own Party, the biggest stake holder, before proposing legislation? Building consensus and support for any legislation is usually the first step. If this normal process had been followed, the legislation probably would not have been written.
Why was Secretary of State Phil McGrane in such a hurry? Now, not only the Republican Party is disenfranchised but every voter in the State regardless of Party has no vote in a Presidential Primary. Since it was written, why wasn’t it previewed to make sure all points had been covered properly before it was introduced in the Legislature?
The error in the legislation totally removing the Presidential Primary was discovered when it was first introduced in the Senate State Affairs Committee, why wasn’t it amended then?
After the bill came back to the Senate, it again was sent to the Senate State Affairs Committee for amendment. Why wasn’t it amended then? On the Senate floor, it was put to the amending order because they knew the bill could get killed. Is that when they made the decision to do a Trailer bill? All this originated in the House on February 13. The Senate then passed the original House bill and the Senate trailer bill on March 23. The House received the Senate trailer bill on March 24 and referred it to the House State Affairs Committee on the same day. The Senate trailer bill was read and discussed in the House State Affairs Committee on March 30 where it died for lack of a motion. The Legislature recessed on March 31 until April 6, the day after the last day for the Governor to act on any bill, in order to be able to address any vetoed bill. No trailer bill passed by the House, no fix for Presidential Primary, original shoddy piece of legislation stands and is in Governor Little’s hands to sign or veto. What next? Can this train wreck be stopped?
According to his own log, Governor Little received House Bill 138 on March 28 at 9:00 AM giving him until 9:00 AM on April 3 to make a decision. This was an extremely important piece of legislation he was probably tracking and should have known the House State Affairs Committee did not ratify the Trailer Bill and send it to the full House for a vote on March 30 at 10:00 AM when the Committee adjourned. Governor Little signed HB 138 without the Trailer bill into law on March 30 at 5:43 PM. Consequently, no fix and train wreck complete! Would it not have been more prudent to veto a poorly written, flawed piece of Legislation considering its importance? Why, at this late date knowing full well it probably will not get corrected, would anyone sign something so flawed into law?
To think the intention of the bill was to change the March primary to May, I don’t think the Legislature would have reversed the veto, considering all the public outcry on the issue. After following this debacle from the beginning, there is only one conclusion. Secretary of State Phil McGrane owns it for not doing his homework before writing the bill and producing and hurriedly pushing a shoddy piece of Legislation. Governor Little owns it for not vetoing a poorly written piece of Legislation knowing full well there was not a fix in place. Makes me wonder if this whole mess was intended to disenfranchise All the voters in the State or was it just an attempt to make the State Republican Party, of which they are members, look bad. Either way, it doesn’t matter; tremendous train wreck and the damage is done.
SOLUTION: The only way to fix this train wreck and do some damage control now is to REPEAL the whole mess. Call the Legislature back into session and REPEAL HB 138. Right this train wreck! Just my opinion. KEEP OUR PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY IN MARCH, KEEP US RELEVANT!
This Op-Ed was submitted by Dolores Ivie. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: 2023 Idaho Legislature, GOP Presidential Primary, Governor Brad Little, HB 138, House Bill 138, ID GOP, Idaho Republican Primary, Phil McGrane