WestViews: Opinions from newspapers in Idaho and the West commenting on Western issues

April 22, 2013 

Cheers and Jeers

Post Register, Idaho Falls

JEERS to House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, a Republican from Star. One of the best bills of this legislative session would have given the Idaho Attorney General's Office the tools required to adequately investigate public corruption and violations of open-meeting laws by county officials.

Senate Bill 1080 made Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's shop responsible for preliminary investigations in cases where county elected officials are accused of wrongdoing.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House with only three "no" votes - including Moyle. And yet, Gov. Butch Otter vetoed SB 1080 at Wasden's request. Why? Because Moyle managed to kill the $212,000 appropriation needed to pay for the extra workload.

According to reporting by the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell, Moyle told the ranking Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee to pull the funding bill. "He said they didn't need it," Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, told Russell. "We were perfectly willing to fund what they needed. What he said was (the Attorney General's Office) could do it out of their budget."

Not true. Wasden's budget is $1.5 million less than it was in 2009. Moyle is no fan of Wasden. He backed an unsuccessful effort to have legislators set up their own legal office rather than rely upon the attorney general to determine the constitutionality of proposed legislation. You know, because it was unthinkable that the state's lawyer concluded state nullification of federal law has no legal basis.

And so, instead of spending $212,000 to fight public corruption, the Legislature spent $180,000 to keep lawmakers around an extra week to fight a turf battle constituents could care less about.

And we wonder why the voters have grown cynical.

JEERS to Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo. It came as no surprise that Risch and Crapo helped kill reasonable background check amendments favored by 91 percent of the American people and the nation's second-leading gun lobby, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. These proposals would have made it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to acquire deadly weapons.

Crapo and Risch staked out their territory weeks ago. That doesn't make their votes any less shameful, however.

Perhaps the best way to put this in perspective is to hear from a victim of gun violence, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, from her column Wednesday in The New York Times: "Speaking is physically difficult for me," Giffords wrote. "But my feelings are clear: I'm furious. ... We cannot allow the status quo - desperately needed by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation - to go on."

Crapo and Risch didn't help stop gun registration or confiscation. All they did was prevent the filling of a loophole that allows criminals and the mentally ill to sidestep a law honest gun owners must abide.

CHEERS to Susan Matsuura of Pocatello. The former Blackfoot resident was instrumental in pushing the Pocatello City Council to consider filling the gaping hole in state law that allows gays to be discriminated against in housing and employment. Like so many others, Matsuura became interested in equal rights after the issue hit home and she learned her son is gay. No mother should have to worry about her child being discriminated against. Matsuura is living proof that hearts and minds are changing on this.

CHEERS to Sen. Mike Crapo, who was recognized by the American Bar Association with a Congressional Justice Award for being the lead Republican sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act of 2013.

Crapo's efforts to combat domestic and sexual violence have never wavered. Talk to experts in this field and they'll tell you that Crapo's efforts have made a real difference in the lives of people across the nation and in the state he represents. His passion for this issue is admirable, and his promise to continue supporting professionals and organizations attempting to reduce domestic and sexual violence is something all Idahoans can celebrate.

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