State Politics

Idaho lawmaker would charge women who have abortions with murder

Dan Foreman.
Dan Foreman.

When Moscow Sen. Dan Foreman ran for office last year, he insisted he wouldn’t play it safe in Boise, become best buddies with the lobbyists or turn into a full-time politician.

The 63-year-old retired Air Force officer and retired Moscow police officer said his only concern would be “doing the right thing.”

“I don’t care what people think of me,” he said Tuesday. “I’m here (in the Legislature) to do what I think is best for the people.”

Foreman’s views about what’s best will be on full display when he begins introducing legislation in the coming weeks. The freshman Republican, who defeated three-term Sen. Dan Schmidt in November, said he’ll carry four bills this session.

The “most controversial” measure, he said, would classify abortion as first-degree murder — for the mother, as well as the doctor who performs the operation — except in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.

“I don’t want to tell a woman what to do with her body, and neither should the government,” Foreman said. “But using that same logic, how can a woman tell her unborn child it has to die? Who represents the child?”

A Coeur d’Alene-based grassroots group, Abolish Abortion Idaho, is circulating a ballot initiative that would charge mothers and abortion doctors with murder, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s health is in danger. However, Foreman said he isn’t carrying any of his bills at the behest of another organization.

“I’m tired of babies dying,” he said. “It’s time to start the fight, and I’ll be the point man. I’ve been through two wars and have 11 years as a cop. I’m not thin-skinned.”

Other states have previously sought to charge abortion physicians with murder, but Foreman thinks this would be the first effort — at least since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling — to charge the mother as well.

“It would be groundbreaking,” he said. “I believe my position is supported by the Idaho Constitution and U.S. Constitution. In fact, I believe it’s mandated. Roe v Wade was wrong.”

His other bills all focus on tax relief.

One would reduce the state sales tax from 6 percent to 5 percent. The second would provide an income tax deduction of up to $8,000 for parents who send their children to private schools. The third deals with “foregone” property taxes.

Counties can increase property tax collections by a maximum of 3 percent per year, not including new construction. In years where they don’t collect the full 3 percent, those “foregone” taxes are banked and can be used in future years. Foreman’s bill would allow counties to bank that taxing authority for a maximum of one year.

Dan Chadwick, executive director of the Idaho Association of Counties, said counties typically don’t go back more than three or four years to capture any foregone taxes.

“Counties don’t tax just to tax,” he said. “The idea of foregone taxes is that they can put it into ‘savings’ in case they need it later. If they’re limited to (going back) one year, the incentive would be for them to tax at the maximum level every year, even if they don’t need it.”

Foreman’s sales tax bill would reduce Idaho’s general fund revenues by $200 million to $250 million per year. Depending on how it’s written, it could also cut the amount of sales tax revenue that’s returned to local jurisdictions through revenue sharing.

“I think the mood in the state is right for a sales tax cut,” he said. “We’re starting to grow government faster than the economy. If we really want to stimulate the economy, let’s leave the spending choices up to the men and women on the street.”

A $250 million reduction in general fund collections would eliminate virtually all of the budget enhancements in Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s fiscal 2018 budget recommendation, including the $101 million increase in public school funding.

Citing the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s proposed budget, Foreman said there’s room for a $200 million tax cut without harming education or transportation funding. However, the foundation’s budget eliminates the entire career ladder teacher pay plan, substituting a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase, and cuts several other education initiatives.

In his State of the State address Monday, Otter noted state tax collections have been cut by a combined $1 billion over the course of his three terms in office.

“But I also understand the costs of failing to invest prudently and sustainably in our future,” he continued. “So I will not entertain anything that undermines our commitment to meeting essential government functions. At the top of that list are our investments in improving education and career readiness.”

Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said freshmen legislators “often come in thinking they have a mandate for their personal agendas.”

Separating personal views from what constituents want “is something we all struggle with,” she said. “We also have to remember that we create laws for the entire state, not just our region.”

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.

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