The chorus to the state’s song begins, “And here we have Idaho, winning her way to fame. Silver and gold in the sunlight blaze, and romance lies in her name.”
Idaho is winning its way to fame alright, but sunlight and romance have nothing to do with it.
For eight years, the Idaho Legislature has refused to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity despite the support of business and industry. Dozens of supporters of wider protection who have protested the Legislature’s refusals to act have been arrested, 23 on Tuesday alone.
A House committee last week moved a bill to the floor for full consideration that would force the state’s colleges and universities to allow guns on campus against the advice of law enforcement officials and all of the schools’ presidents.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter just signed a bill that seals up dairies and other confined animal feeding operations and keeps them from the prying eyes of people who would expose animal abuse by publishing undercover photos or video. The bill makes it a crime to gain access to such operations through misrepresentation or without the permission of the owner.
With the costs of public education and tuition rising, with state and county roads and bridges crumbling, the House is considering a measure to cut income taxes by $126 million—most of it going to the wealthy and corporations—even though Idaho’s per-capita tax burden ranks just 49th in the nation. At the same time, its members have failed to draft significant increases in gas taxes on trucks and automobiles to pay for better roads.
So, here we have Idaho: gay-bashing, gun-crazy, blind to animal abuse, and favoring the rich over education and good roads. It’s said that fame is fleeting. If only that were true.