Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said on Monday he had “no plans” to remove five protesting House members from their committees, or to reinstate Rep. Heather Scott to hers.
Republican Reps. Ron Nate, Rexburg; Karey Hanks, St. Anthony; Dorothy Moon, Stanley; Christy Zito, Hammett; and Priscilla Giddings, White Bird, had asked to be removed from their House committee assignments to protest Bedke’s decision last week to sanction Scott, R-Blanchard, by removing her from her three committees for making disparaging comments about a fellow legislator.
On the House floor Monday, Nate said he was “deeply concerned about the integrity of this body, and the mixed message being sent to the citizens of Idaho.”
Bedke would not comment on the actions of the five House members.
“I’m not going to communicate to my caucus members through the media,” he said. “We will work our way through this.”
On Thursday, Bedke removed Scott from her committees in response to her comments that female legislators earn committee chairmanships only through sexual favors.
“This whole thing is just really unfortunate,” Giddings said after Monday’s session. “We all just want all this to be handled professionally.”
Giddings declined to comment further. She and the other lawmakers, who also declined comment, promised a written statement later.
Hanks, Moon, Zito and Giddings are first-term legislators; Nate is in his second term.
Here are the five lawmakers’ committee assignments:
▪ Giddings: Local Government; Resources and Conservation; and State Affairs.
▪ Moon: Commerce & Human Resources; Education; and Environment, Energy & Technology.
▪ Zito: Agricultural Affairs; Judiciary, Rules & Administration; and State Affairs.
▪ Nate: Environment, Energy & Technology; Judiciary, Rules & Administration; and Revenue & Taxation.
▪ Hanks: Agricultural Affairs; Health & Welfare; and Judiciary, Rules & Administration.
According to various sources, all five attended scheduled meetings of their committees Monday afternoon. “I intend to be present (at) the committee every day” even if formally removed, Zito told the Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell. “For me, this is not a personal issue, this is a First Amendment issue. It has nothing to do with any particular person.”
Uproar at the Capitol
Scott’s and Bedke’s actions and a letter from Perry to Bedke detailing Scott’s actions have caused an uproar at the Capitol.
On Friday, Scott took to the radio waves to lambast Bedke and Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa. Scott said she was referring to Perry when she made the comment about female legislators getting committee chairmanships.
Responding to Scott’s comments on Nate Shelman’s talk radio show on 670 KBOI, where she referred to the speaker as a “top-down micromanager,” Bedke on Monday said, “I understand that she’s upset.”
Scott added more in a newsletter she emailed Monday:
“I was so excited about citizen’s ability to work with legislators through the new website that I was blindsided when House Speaker Scott Bedke pulled me from all my committee assignments for no addressed reason in order to flex his muscle to intimidate new liberty legislators,” she wrote. “However, please know that the time I won’t spend sitting in committees will free me up to run legislation for you and testify for citizens in committee hearings. I’m good at making lemonade out of lemons!”
House Democrats, outnumbered 59-11 in the chamber, urged members of the Republican majority to mend their fences.
“I say, let’s get down to business. Let’s do the job Idahoans sent us here to do. Let’s stop playing around,” House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, said in a statement on Monday.