Opinion » Note

Three Pleas

Blinkered ideologues

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In his legislative preview this week, News Editor George Prentice provides a handy formula for typical early session prognostication. You'll be hearing and reading plenty of spot-on examples of the Prentice Template during the next couple of months, so I won't go down that road. What I will do is issue a plea (or series of pleas) to our citizen lawmakers, who were gaveled in Jan. 6.

First: We know there are blinkered ideologues in your midst; please do not let them derail this session into grandstanding on issues that are neither germane to the interests of Idahoans, nor in your power to actually affect (read: repealing federal laws or any portions of the U.S. Constitution, debating toothless resolutions supporting or condemning various things that people in other states are doing, trying to advance some broader agenda with offensive legislation like messing with people's genitals/sex lives/handwriting, etc).

Second: Idahoans make less at their jobs and therefore use more public assistance than almost anyone else in the country. You know this. Please do not forget it when you're doling out tax breaks or otherwise smoothing the way for the state's largest corporations.

Third: Just Add the Words, already. We promise it won't hurt.

Those are pretty basic, I know, and anyone who even half pays attention to the work of the Legislature could probably come up with five or six more very specific requests: stuff about education (which you already know needs to be better funded), public lands (which we have the sinking feeling you're going to spend way too much time talking about privatizing), health care (you know that expanding Medicaid would better the lives of thousands of your constituents) and prisons (we really don't want to continue as the Gulag State).

But--call me a Pollyanna--I feel like there's enough earnestness in the Statehouse that those first three pleas should appeal to a spirit of civic responsibility and humanism that more than a few of us can agree on.

Of course, we also know that this session is heading into an election year, which is going to make Plea No. 1 most challenging. This could be a transformative session for Idaho, or another formulaic descent into political cynicism. I think you know which one Idahoans would prefer.