A few thoughts on a few, somewhat random, topics...

Freedom Foundation routed at the Idaho Supreme Court. Brent Regan and Attorney Bryan Smith’s efforts to strike down Medicaid expansion through a court challenge failed spectacularly last week.  The loss was even worse than failing to win over a single one of Idaho’s five Supreme Court justices. 

The theory proposed was that the ballot measure was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the federal government. Three of the five justices explicitly rejected that theory as nonsense, upholding current and future legislative reliance on federal statutes and the involvement of state agencies.

The other two justices would have dismissed the case on procedural grounds (a position advocated by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office). Regan only escaped having to pay the state of Idaho’s legal fees and costs by the narrowest of grounds, namely that jurisdictional statute cited by Regan was itself unconstitutional, meaning the case in its entirety was not frivolous.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation (and the same attorney) had also lost in similar fashion when they unsuccessfully challenged former Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of a bill to remove the sales tax from food. 

Rep. Barbara Ehardt misfires on sex education. I live in Idaho Falls and know Idaho Falls State Rep. Barbara Ehardt. She is a caring person but went a little far last week.  She introduced a bill requiring parents to “opt-in” before their kids can receive sex education.  The basis of the measure shows that Ehardt failed to do her homework.

At issue is a District 93 (Ammon and rural Bonneville County) school course. Ehardt blasted the program, focusing on a couple items including an image of a male masturbating.  But, she failed to contact the school district and understand the context.  The Post Register’s Nathan Brown found that the offending material were items sent home for special education students. The purpose was to discourage engaging in such behavior at school (there had been problems) and was in image form because some had difficulty reading. It wasn’t part of the curriculum.

Further, Ehardt did an interview on the topic with Duke Pesta (can be viewed here). He in 2016 was appointed to the National Council of the loopy John Birch Society, a group whose founder claimed Pres. Dwight Eisenhower was an agent of the communists.

A good lesson for any legislator. . . learn the facts first before introducing a bill.

Little trying to help first-time homebuyers. Gov. Brad Little has an interesting proposal to allow first time homebuyers to save tax free $3,000 for a single person and $6,000 for a couple towards the purchase.  Idaho home prices are soaring and any such incentive will help those trying to get a house to cobble together a down payment and closing costs.

If legislators move the Little proposal forward, they should also look closely at boosting resources for the Idaho Housing Finance Administration, which provides assistance to many of those same buyers.

Messing with redistricting. Idaho Democrats in the Legislature were furious last week when Rep. Steve Harris advanced a measure to add a seventh member to Idaho’s redistributing commission, selected by a group of statewide elected officials. Since most such officials are Republicans it would likely give the GOP effective control of the process which now is evenly split between the parties.

If approved by two-thirds of both houses it would go to a public vote. But, there is a point that both sides should consider -- the law of unintended consequences.  Republicans may control those statewide positions today, but they might not in the future.

Steve Taggart is an Idaho Falls attorney specializing in bankruptcy (www.MaynesTaggart.com).  He has an extensive background in politics and public policy. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..