State Representative Karey Hanks (R-St. Anthony) has responded to the Idaho Dispatch’s “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” survey.
The survey is a simple way for legislators to let their constituents and Idahoans, in general, know what they felt were some of the highlights and lows of the 2021 legislative session.
All legislators from both political parties were sent the same survey.
Here are Hanks’ answers:
The Good: We had several successes as the 2021 Idaho legislative session has tentatively wrapped up its business for the year.
We passed substantive income tax reductions (H380) and some property tax relief (H389) for our citizens.
We passed legislation to clarify and restore balance within the legislative and executive branches of government (S1217) and legislation to restore legislative authority (H391, H392, and H393) in times of emergency. These laws will provide a check on the governor’s ability to make unilateral decisions for Idahoans in the future without legislative input.
We strengthened our 2nd amendment rights (S1205) as a sanctuary state in order to protect our citizens from future federal actions that would restrict our rights to keep and bear arms.
The Critical Race Theory law (H377), which prohibits public schools and universities from discrimination or compelling students to adopt or adhere to certain beliefs, is vital to our education process. In addition, funding for these types of programs has been disallowed.
The new Ballot Initiative revisions (S1110) will be beneficial in several ways, ensuring signatures are gathered from EACH of the 35 legislative districts, so every area of Idaho is included in this process. These new requirements will make it more difficult (perhaps impossible) to legalize recreational marijuana in Idaho, and slow or stop other proposals that are hostile to our Idaho way of life but seem to be popping up more often for consideration.
Another key piece of legislation is the new Wolf bill (S1211), which will help farmers, ranchers, and other landowners control the depredation of livestock, domestic animals, and other wildlife. Our wolf population is ten times the number stipulated in the original agreement of a 150 limit in Idaho, so it is absolutely necessary to reduce the wolf population, and Idahoans have been given more options in accomplishing this goal.
One last major accomplishment: while the Senate voted to adjourn Sine die, the House Republicans stood together and agreed to recess subject to the call of the Speaker of the House (HR4). This will allow the legislature to reconvene in case of unforeseen events that deem it necessary without the governor’s “permission” or limiting the issues to be addressed, as occurred last year.
The Bad: I wish we could have provided more property tax relief. A less complicated bill was proposed but was not addressed. Additionally, passage of the grocery tax repeal would have really helped our families and households in general; unfortunately, the legislative establishment did not agree.
The new transportation law allocates many millions of dollars for badly needed improvements to our roads and bridges. However, H362 allows additional bonding in the next 20 years of up to $1.6 billion (aka government debt), which is unconstitutional and places financial burdens on future generations. We already have several hundred million dollars in bonding at the present time.
Many members of the House wanted deeper cuts to the university budgets, seeking to eliminate Critical Race Theory curriculum and other related programs to be removed from their taxpayer-funded budgets. We will be watching for that transformation in the coming year.
The new 18-page industrial hemp law (H126) is fraught with regulations and restrictions that are unnecessary. I do support agricultural hemp production, but I am concerned about the strict requirements that must be followed within this new law. We will see how this unfolds in the future.
Last but not least, I wanted to see the mask mandate prohibition bill (H339) become law. It is a violation of our personal rights, as well as our physical/mental health rights to be required to wear this medical device. The bill passed the House with a veto-proof majority, but was held in a Senate committee, as were many other good bills, which is also a disappointment.
The Ugly: Our appropriations for Health & Welfare programs, including Medicaid expansion, are out of control. This budget is one of the big reasons we are not providing bigger tax cuts. Our Health & Human Services appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 total over $4.6 billion, or almost 41% of our appropriations. By comparison, Education is at 36% and right at $4 billion. (These numbers include general, dedicated, and federal funds.)
In recent months the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was announced and promises up to $5,300,000,000–that’s BILLION–in additional federal funds for Idaho. (Remember, we have already received billions in CARES Act funds.) Idaho is in great shape financially, and we do not need the money. We are borrowing from our grandchildren, and they will be strapped with this debt! S1204 was enacted into law to set up the structure to accept the ARPA funding and sacrifice Idaho’s sovereignty. Ugly, indeed.
Tags: Critical Race Theory, GBU, HR4, Karey Hanks