Sen. Curt McKenzie supplied two valuable lessons last week, and both were positive. He showed that checks and balances work in the legislative process and that calmness and thoughtfulness are better qualities than hysteria.
The Nampa Republican, who chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee, put a stop to legislation that would have sheriffs and deputies thinking twice about cooperating with federal law-enforcement officials on major crimes.
The legislation, HB 219, easily cleared the House on a party-line vote, but McKenzie announced that it would not get a hearing in the Senate, saying it was too late in the session. He provided a diplomatic, and fitting, burial to one of the worst bills of this session - if not one of the worst anti-law enforcement bills in Idaho's history.
HB 219 was the product of fear over President Obama's gun-control proposals and executive orders - fear that sheriffs and deputies, working with federal authorities, would start kicking doors down and taking guns from law-abiding citizens. The House bill added some sharp teeth, calling for a maximum fine of $1,000 and a year in prison if local law-enforcement officials enforced any new federal gun restrictions.
The bill, essentially, would kill long-standing cooperative efforts with federal authorities. Sheriffs and other local officers have no interest in derailing the Second Amendment. But they have a high interest in stopping gangs, drugs, violent crimes and child sexual abuse - crimes that often involve taking guns away from bad people. House Republicans were more interested in making a political point.
Local authorities don't have to worry about those mind games now. In the interest of public safety, we all can thank McKenzie for exercising common sense.
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