Wednesday, March 22, 2023

EDITORIAL: Bad bill goes down, but be warned

| March 17, 2023 1:00 AM

More than one in every five Idaho voters last November voted absentee.

Yet a group of legislators, led by a freshman from Coeur d’Alene, sought to take that voting right away.

Fortunately, by a 40-30 vote, members of the Idaho House rejected HB 205 this week. The bill based on paranoia about nonexistent voter fraud is squashed like the roach it is for the 2023 session.

While that’s reason to celebrate, what’s alarming for Kootenai County residents is the unanimous support it received from local legislators.

All six Kootenai County-based House members voted for HB 205, which was sponsored by Joe Alfieri of Coeur d’Alene. Alfieri, you might remember, arrived recently on the political scene as a mayoral candidate who was defeated in November 2021 by Jim Hammond. A year later, Alfieri won his District 4 seat and is now nearing the end of his first legislative session.

The other House members from Kootenai County, all Republicans, are a mix of old and new. Joining Alfieri on the rookie list are Elaine Price and Jordan Redman, while Tony Wisniewski, Vito Barbieri and Ron Mendive are all multi-term veterans.

Aside from backing a bill that perpetuates baseless fear of voter fraud — a myth in Idaho, which shines as a national example of voting system integrity — Kootenai County’s legislators are all consistently on the assembly line of far-right rubber stamping. Why?

Your first hint was that all were endorsed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, which is led by the man who also serves as board chair of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. And to nobody’s surprise, all six House members from Kootenai County are among the very highest rated legislators on IFF’s “lawmaker scorecard.”

To all but the most vehement ultra-conservatives, IFF’s scorecards on legislation and legislators is a joke. But the only people laughing are the IFF ringleaders themselves.

In Barbieri, Wisniewski and Mendive, their track records provided ample evidence of how they would vote moving forward. That there’s not an independent voice or thinker among the entire bloc of Kootenai County Republicans in the Legislature, however, is disappointing considering the very edge of the political spectrum where they’re residing.

Citizens should insist that their elected representatives will carefully weigh the merits of every bill and vote based strictly on what’s best for this great state, not what’s best for a radical organization that dictates how they should think.

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