Hard to criticize Texas politics when you’re from Idaho

February 4, 2018 GMT

“Good thing we’ve still got politics in Texas — finest form of free entertainment ever invented.” Molly Ivins

Journalist, author, and humorist Molly Ivins, a legendary figure in Texas politics, died in 2007, but her words of wit and wisdom live on in a number of her publications.

While traveling through the Lone Star State recently, I read her book ‘Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?’ and found myself frequently shaking my head, thinking, “Boy, Texas politics is sure weird.”

But then most evenings, after firing up the computer to check on the news back home, I read articles highlighting the first few weeks of the 2018 Idaho state legislature and found myself thinking virtually the same thing—substituting ‘Idaho’ for ‘Texas’ of course.

After a few days of the usual house cleaning in the Capitol, it was time to get to work. And since quite a few of the Republican law makers apparently could not find any time over the last nine months to do research, take polls, talk to constituents, etc., and possibly create some new legislation, the introduction of recycled bills began.

To get the Sisyphean political ball rolling, state representative Eric Redman, R-Athol, took the lead. Redman is once again pushing for passage of his anti-Sharia law ‘zombie’ bill. It’s a ‘zombie’ bill because no matter how many times the legislature kills it, the bill simply will not die. For the third consecutive year, Redman’s bill is on the docket.

When he first introduced the bill in 2016, Redman passed around a handout in the chamber which included a picture of a severed hand and a man about to be beheaded. Yeah, pretty weird, maybe he was just trying to intimidate other representatives to vote for his bill.

I’m not sure why the good citizens of Athol, population 692, are so concerned about a radical Islamic form of government taking over Idaho. Is there something going on up north in the ‘prepper’ heartland that we should know about?

But if taxpayers want to pay Mr. Redman $20,000 year after year after year to introduce the same bill again and again and again, by golly, that’s their God-given right.

Another bill that you could apply the recycled label to since anti-vaxxers seem to show up in Boise about as regularly as the flu is supported by an organization called Health Freedom Idaho. The bill would make it easier for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children with medicine that will keep the kids healthy. So shouldn’t the group be called Freedom FROM Health Idaho?

The purpose of the bill is to allow parents to send a letter to school excusing their kids from vaccinations instead of filling out a simple form. Ever try to read notes that parents write and send to school when their child is sick? Ever hear of school kids forging parents’ notes to be excused for various reasons? Is the state legislature sure that this bill was not forged by a fifth-grader who is afraid of needles?

Of course, any session of the Idaho state legislature would not be complete without GOP lawmakers taking a bead on an arsenal of gun bills. So far a revised stand-your-ground bill has already been ‘shot down’ as reported by magicvalley.com.

During the bill’s discussion, Rep. Christy Zito, a Republican from Hammett, wanted to retain the bill’s wording that would have allowed using deadly force to “suppress a riot.” To that I say “What the hey!”

Must be some rowdy herds of sheep hanging out near Hammett, just “Chillin’ like a villain.” And since they far out-number the human population of around 400, you never know when the sheep could riot and loot the general store’s supply of Woolite.

Next item barreling down the legislature’s gun-bill conveyer belt is recycled legislation dusted off by that most entertaining of Idaho GOP politicians, Rep. Ron Nate of Rexburg. Nate’s bill would encourage elementary and secondary schools to offer gun safety classes.

Okay, now I’m trying to picture your typical elementary school building and imagine where exactly this class would be held. In the gym? On the playground? In the principal’s office? Just kidding.

I thought that most states’ lawmakers have been taking steps to keep guns OUT of schools. Maybe this explains why over 20 percent of Idaho teachers do not return to their teaching jobs each year. But Nate’s bill missed its target last year and probably will again.

Finally, since “Idaho is the last state with no legal protection for breastfeeding mothers,” according to Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, he has introduced a bill to protect nursing moms from Idaho’s indecent exposure law.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But when an Idaho Democrat proposed similar legislation in 2003, Republican Pete Nielsen testified that he feared that the bill would encourage women to “whip it out and do it anywhere.” The bill didn’t pass.

And it’s possible that Amador himself hurt his bill’s chances of becoming law when he stated, “The benefits of breastfeeding children are scientifically undeniable.”

As we all know, to GOP lawmakers there is no more certain kiss of death for a piece of legislation than to support it with scientific facts.

Mike Murphy of Pocatello is an award-winning columnist whose articles are syndicated by Senior Wire. He recently published a book titled “Tortoise Crossing – Expect Long Delays,” which is a collection of 100 of his favorite columns. It is available on Amazon.com.