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OPINION: All the bills?: IFF files, Part 3

by MARY SOUZA/Uncanceled and Unfiltered
| March 1, 2023 1:00 AM

During my eight years serving in the Idaho Senate, one issue was always a top priority for our Republican members: Right to Life. Every year we tried to protect the unborn, but the U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1973 blocked any attempt to stop abortion in our state. Many of us were literally in tears as we stood up on the floor of the Senate to express our frustration.

Finally, last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortion law will be left to the states. Now the Idaho legislature can craft effective legislation to protect our unborn babies.

And what did the Idaho Freedom Foundation do to help us in our fight to protect Idaho’s unborn? Nothing. As Libertarian/anarchists they don’t get involved. They don’t score these bills.

IFF would also not touch what we called “cultural issues." For example, Idaho was the first state in the nation to pass a law protecting fairness in women’s sports, which prohibits biological males from competing on girls’ or women's teams. Rep. Barbara Ehardt and I were the bill sponsors and it was the most difficult and important bill I fought for during my Senate years. IFF did not score it.

They also did not score H114, the 2019 bill banning female genital mutilation, which passed unanimously. You will see this issue is related to a current bill as you read on.

IFF typically does not score drug bills either. Recreational drugs are a conundrum for this Libertarian group. Wayne Hoffman, IFF’s president, has always wanted marijuana legalized, or at least decriminalized. I have had this debate with him many times over the years. I am a conservative Republican and I oppose it. Look at the damage to the youth in our neighbor states that have allowed it. It appears Wayne has now moved to Washington state, where it is legal.

So IFF does not analyze all bills, as they have claimed. In fact, if you look at their scoring index, you might notice there are many gaps in the numbering sequence. The index does not include all the bills introduced by the legislature that session. You will not know which bills are missing unless you look for a specific bill.

So far we’ve established that IFF is led by “Libertarians," the bills are scored by a self-described anarchist, it is not a Republican group but grades Republican legislators, and it does not score all the bills. Let’s move on. Next we’ll look at whether their scoring is objective and consistent.

There are two bills currently in the system that make for a good contrast, and they were both analyzed by IFF’s self-labeled anarchist, Parrish Miller, just two days apart:

House bill 71,“Genital Mutilation of a Child” is scored as a +2. IFF’s synopsis says it would “protect children from unnecessary, life-altering medical procedures by prohibiting medical providers from performing sex reassignment surgery on minors or prescribing puberty blockers to them.”

Senate bill 1057, “Parental Rights, Protect Minors Act” is scored as a -5. IFF’s synopsis says it would “force smartphone and tablet manufacturers to include and automatically activate strict content filters that limit access to adult content.”

Why is there a huge seven-point difference in scoring on these two bills designed to protect children from danger and empower parents? Both bills impose strict regulations on businesses — one on medical providers and the other on technology manufacturers. After reading and re-reading IFF’s full analysis of each of these bills, I cannot make sense out of the scoring difference. It appears to be arbitrary and inconsistent. H71 is a popular topic with the IFF base, so it gets a good score, (even though they didn’t score the closely related 2019 bill I mentioned above). The second bill, S1057, is sponsored by legislators who are not IFF loyalists, and it gets a seriously negative score. For the record, though, I would vote for both of these bills.

Want more bills? I could write a book! Let’s look at the Wildland Firefighter’s Extra Pay bill from last year. It was rated a -1 by IFF. That may not seem like a bad score, but any negative score will garner “no” votes from the IFF faithful. Their analysis on this bill is one of my favorites to describe with amazement: The bill authorizes hazard pay for Wildland Firefighters while they are working on an active fire line. It’s dangerous work. But IFF says, “Deciding to take the job of firefighter carries with it the expectation of risk and fighting active fires. This legislation suggests that some firefighters are more deserving than others and should receive extra pay.” Yes it does and yes they should. These are the folks on an active fire line!

Here are some important factors IFF should have considered before they scored this bill: Many of these firefighters were making less than burger flippers at McDonald’s, and Idaho was losing experienced firefighters to nearby states because we didn’t offer hazard pay. Our state and school endowment funds lose massive amounts of money when our forests go up in flames. IFF could have known all of this if they had listened to the committee testimony and the floor debates on this bill before they analyzed and scored the bill. But they didn’t.

Wayne Hoffman is downright defensive about their process to grade the bills before the legislative process even begins. He wrote in a recent fundraising letter, “Souza whines like a little baby, telling TV viewers ‘it’s wrong’ for IFF to analyze legislation before the committee hearings or floor debate. How is it wrong? If a bill expands government or teeters toward socialism, do we need to hear the floor debate to decide it’s wrong? How stupid is that?”

Seems like IFF, a Libertarian-anarchist group, thinks they should make Idaho’s laws, not the Republican legislators you elected. Please think on that before you send them money. It’s all about the money…and money is power.

Yes, there will be a Part 4. Stay tuned, there’s much more to tell.

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Mary Souza, a Coeur d'Alene Republican, represented District 4 in the Idaho Senate for eight years from 2014 to 2022.

Feedback: MarySouzaUnfiltered@gmail.com

Facebook: @ MarySouza-Uncanceled and Unfiltered