Our View: Idaho Senate panel opens door to Patterson redux

March 11, 2014 

In this December 2012 Associated Press photo, former Idaho Rep. Mark Patterson poses in a warehouse at his company, Rock "N" Roll Lubrication in Boise.

How inconsiderate of us to fail to recognize that six members of the Senate State Affairs Committee are special and ought to be exempt from associating with the unwashed and unanointed when securing an Idaho permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Our gross error of expecting a level playing field for elected officials and the people who elect them was slapped down by a 6-2 vote in the committee Monday. The uppity HB 514, which passed the House 62-7-1 earlier, was, we have learned, only a temporary and inexcusable lapse in judgment corrected by these omniscient members of State Affairs.

No one could have said it better than Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian and a gubernatorial candidate: “We do not need to relinquish our privileges.”

We understand Fulcher’s vote and statement to be about the dangers of serving and the need for protection — but that goes for everyone, not just those elected.

So, excuse us, Sen. Fulcher and the rest of those who deep-sixed the measure: Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston; and Democrats Michelle Stennett of Ketchum and Elliot Werk of Boise.

What were we and the House thinking?

Maybe we were thinking the same thing as Republican Senate leaders Brent Hill and Bart Davis when they voted the other way — that the estimated 3,000 Idaho elected officials who get a permit just for breathing should not have an advantage over, for example, a domestic violence victim who needs one for her safety.

“Why in the world would we want to say our periodic life-threatening life experiences are more threatening than that woman’s daily experience?” Davis asked. There is no good answer for that question because none exists.

HB 514 was originally introduced because former Rep. Mark Patterson — by the mere fact that he was an elected official until his resignation in January — got to keep his permit even after it was revoked when it was learned last year he did not disclose a 1974 guilty plea to assault with intent to commit rape.

Maybe a little more scrutiny for elected officials during the permit process would turn up other things the public has a right to know about the people who would govern us.

The Legislature’s line of fairness and justice has a circuitous and curious path at times.

We don’t believe any “privilege” afforded elected officials should go beyond that of their constituents.

Kudos to Sens. Davis and Hill and the Idaho House for recognizing a problem and trying to fix it. This bill was shelved too quickly, and now the circumstances that allowed Patterson to carry after revocation could conceivably happen again.

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