When Gov. Brad Little was introduced at Monday’s annual economic development luncheon in Coeur d’Alene, the crowd of more than 400 gave him a standing ovation.
Without polling every one of those 409 people, two sentiments were being expressed — borne out at least anecdotally by journalists asking guests after the program.
One, people were congratulating their governor on his victory last November while warmly welcoming the economic-development advocate back to a place with which he is greatly familiar.
And two, many people were showing Little some love after his courageous veto of one of the worst bills ever mustered by this or any other legislature.
Ill-conceived SB 1159, which would have emasculated Idaho’s citizen-driven initiative process, caught the governor’s first veto last Friday. While Little noted at the time that the legislation wouldn’t pass court muster because, well, it’s counter to the Idaho Constitution, that didn’t shut up the anti-initiative contingent. In fact, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin criticized the governor’s decision, staying loyal to her extreme-right base. The guess here is that had McGeachin been addressing the big crowd Monday at The Coeur d’Alene Resort, she would have been greeted with silence. Or worse.
Some legislators are still making the argument that the initiative process, without serious tampering, goes too far in favoring a metro areas at the expense of rural minions. But the notion that the need for change is giving rural Idahoans a voice — and mitigating the Democrat-leaning Boise urban area’s influence — is laughable.
Here’s a test of the rural vs. metro argument. If this really has nothing to do with the fact that most of rural Idaho is strongly Republican while a couple of more densely populated areas swing Democrat, let’s pretend that the reverse is true. Answer this question: If rural Idaho were strongly Democrat and the metro areas were heavily Republican, how ardently would our current Republican-rich Legislature be fighting for the little guys from Hicksville? Case closed.
Based on feedback from many Idahoans of Republican, Democrat and Independent beliefs, this Legislature is guilty of putting their political ideology not just above the will of the people, but tossing it like a suffocating blanket over the founding document upon which our state government is based. While Gov. Little deserves his well-earned standing O in CDA, legislators should be counting their blessings. They must be grateful they’re not up for re-election until 2020.