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Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

School ballot measures passed Tuesday in nine of the 10 districts that pursued levies, with one bond failing. Voters in Twin Falls and Jerome approved 10-year plant facilities levies for their school districts, and voters in seven other districts either renewed supplemental levies or passed new ones.

Shoshone was the only district to have a measure fail, as voters approved the school district’s two-year, $300,000 supplemental levy, but voted down a $6 million bond for the third time. The measure fell just short of the required two-thirds super majority.

Kudos to south-central Idaho voters for turning out to vote and supporting these school ballot measures. While lawmakers in Boise continue to underfund Idaho’s schools, voters stepped in to ensure schools have sufficient funds to repair old facilities and keep the lights on without dipping into their contingency funds.

Jeer

An abortion bill is headed the Governor’s desk despite some ominous opposition by Republican lawmakers.

The bill, which cleared the Senate with a vote of 21-14 Wednesday, has been criticized as “invasive” by several legislators. It would require abortion providers to report details like a woman’s age, race and how many abortions she’s had in the past. That information would then be compiled into an annual report, available to the Legislature and the public with identifying information removed.

Criticism has come from all sides of the political spectrum, including Sen. Shawn Keough, a Republican from Sandpoint, and Sen. Steven Thayn, a Republican from Emmett who said he’s never before debated against an abortion bill. Thayn said the bill sounded like a “totalitarian state.”

Supporters of the bill say its purpose is to verify abortions are provided safely, but that seems like an unlikely end goal here. This feels more like a measure to ensure Idaho courts have plenty of data to rule in favor of future bills that make it harder for women in Idaho to get abortions, and lawmakers are taking a disturbing route to get there.

Cheer

A bill is headed to the governor’s desk that could ensure more police departments are equipped with body cameras. The bill would shorten the amount of time that counties must keep law enforcement media recordings, like the audio and video captured on body cameras worn by officers. That would significantly decrease the storage costs that counties face under current guidelines.

The bill passed the Senate the House with nearly unanimous support, and for good reason. This is a win for transparency.

As Twin Falls Sheriff Tom Carter said, body cams probably help police as much as they help the civilian population. Making them affordable gives police officers the security of knowing their interactions are backed by media recordings, and it alleviates some of the public’s questions about police practices.

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