The capitol got a lot quieter last week when the legislature went home. And now that the session is done, it’s time to examine how the legislature did.
To answer that question, let’s look at it through the grid of the Family Policy Alliance of Idaho mission statement – building an Idaho where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. How did our policy makers do on that scorecard?
Protecting Religious Freedom
Going into the session, it was clear that this was the year that there would finally be a much-discussed push for an LGBT “Add the Words” compromise that would undermine religious freedom. Right on cue, the powerful Senate leader announced early in the session that he would be introducing that bill in a couple of weeks.
What happened next was a testament to people like you whose support allowed us to work the halls of the capitol every day. We held countless meetings with key legislators and even hosted people like Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington florist who told lawmakers her powerful story of how “Add the Words” continues to threaten her with losing everything.
In addition, hundreds of you responded to our alerts and got the clear attention of lawmakers backing the measure. Ultimately, to the relief of many, the senator backed away from the proposal and announced that he would not be introducing it this year.
Sometimes, victories at the capitol are measured in terms of what doesn’t happen, and no official action on this bill was a momentous victory for the religious freedom of Idahoans.
Helping Families Thrive
Other times, victories are measured in terms of progress made. That’s especially true with bold new proposals that often take more than one session to get passed.
That was certainly the case on a bill to help Idaho parents better deal with some terrible problems in sex-education programs. Revelations of pornographic material in some Idaho sex-ed curricula sparked a bill to give greater control to parents.
Currently, in most Idaho school districts it is assumed that all kids will participate in sex-education programs unless a parent takes action to opt their child out. But parents may never even know that such a sex-ed program is happening, much less know its content.
The legislation would have created an opt-in policy, giving parents more control and better access to review content in advance. Despite heavy opposition from Planned Parenthood and others, the bill sailed through the House before hitting some roadblocks in the Senate. But building on the terrific progress, this bill will be back for a stronger push in 2020.
Early in the session, news broke that New York had legalized abortion right up to birth. Then the Virginia governor defended “abortions” after a baby is born.
Like many around the nation, Idaho pro-lifers (including legislators) were shocked at these developments and were determined to take action. Thankfully, some good new policies were enacted, including reinstating the ban on partial-birth abortions. Family Policy Alliance of Idaho was pleased to assist our pro-life allies in Idaho to move this and other pro-life policies forward.
This 2019 pro-life counter-reaction – with dozens of pro-life bills, including Idaho’s, becoming law around the nation – is extremely encouraging.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”
Every legislative session either builds on or undermines previous sessions. Much work lies ahead of us this year to prepare for more advances in 2020. Thank you for your support that allows us to work for an Idaho where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished.
Director of Advocacy