I was very saddened this week to learn of the tragic loss of three precious lives of our Idaho National Guard members. The pilots who were killed are 43-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson of Boise, 39-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 3 George "Geoff" Laubhan of Boise, and 43-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Peltzer of Nampa. We owe these brave men a debt of gratitude for their service to our state and our nation. I am praying for their families and friends during this difficult time.
Capitol Clarity – Week 4
We had our fourth Capitol Clarity meeting on Thursday, and our attendance continues to increase. We livestreamed the event on our Facebook Page for those who couldn't attend in person. Click here to watch the video.
Our guest presenters this week included Rep. Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett), Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), Rep. Tammy Nichols (R-Middleton), Professor Scott Yenor, and Education Policy Analyst Anna Miller.
Rep. Blanksma spoke about House Bill 33, which would empower citizens to appeal health district orders to their county commissioners. Rep. Rubel spoke about her bill draft to repeal mandatory minimum sentencing mandates for certain drug offenses that have resulted in many young, first-time offenders being imprisoned for many years.
Rep. Nichols has a bill as well, House Bill 63, which would prevent forced or mandated vaccinations. She explained that one challenge in drafting the bill was finding a new term — she ultimately chose genetic modulation — to describe the atypical Covid vaccine. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use a dead or weakened form of the targeted virus to generate an immune response, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA packaged in fat envelopes, a technology that has never before been approved.
Professor Scott Yenor and Education Policy Analyst Anna Miller spoke about the "social justice" agenda that is being implemented at educational institutions throughout the state.
We recently met with the Chief Deputy from the Secretary of State's Office to discuss efforts to improve election integrity in Idaho. We discussed "logic and accuracy testing," a process used to make sure voting machines are functioning properly. Idaho is fortunate that the Secretary of State's Office has been performing these duties, but this testing is technically optional in Idaho because it is not required by statute. In some other states such as Florida, this testing is mandatory.
In order to protect Idaho's election integrity going forward — no matter who may occupy the position of Secretary of State — Idaho needs to add a statutory requirement for regular logic and accuracy testing of our voting machines.
Also on the subject of election integrity, Senate Bill 1069 was recently introduced to require that if a county clerk identifies any issue preventing an absentee ballot from being counted, the clerk must attempt to contact the voter to ensure the issue is not related to any form of fraud and to provide the voter the opportunity to remedy the issue if feasible. The bill stipulates that any issues must be remedied by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day for the ballot to be counted.
Threats to Idaho's Sovereignty
As we discussed last month, the Biden Administration has been issuing executive orders and other executive actions at a record pace. Among these actions was the repeal of President Trump's Executive Order 13778 of February 28, 2017, "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule."
As some of you may know, environmentalists and their allies on the left have been working to define the "Waters of the United States" in such a way to give the federal government total control over every stream, ditch, puddle, and other non-navigable water source in the country.
This and related efforts tie into the provisions of the unusual 20-page FEMA agreement that the Idaho Governor signed with the federal government. This agreement stipulates that, in regards to construction projects, the State must ensure that all applicable federal, state and local permits and approvals are obtained, and all permit conditions are addressed before the start of any construction activity. This includes compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Endangered Species Act and all other applicable environmental laws and executive orders.
Since early last year, the federal government has been engaging in unprecedented action in the name of dealing with the coronavirus situation. This began with the declaration of emergency under the Stafford Act — a statute normally reserved for natural disasters — and has included the haphazard expenditure of trillions of debt-financed federal dollars. I cannot recall any other instance of the Stafford Act being used for a nationwide declaration of emergency, and I find this ongoing expansion of federal power particularly concerning given the radical ideology of the new administration.
Idaho needs to focus on protecting our citizens and our economy, not selling our state into servitude in exchange for FEMA dollars. Idaho's sovereignty is not for sale.