Two things happened in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session: the Senate killed a tax cut for wealthy Idahoans and the House killed health insurance for 78,000 low-income Idahoans.
What do these two things have in common?
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle.
Boss Moyle really, really, really, really, really likes cutting income taxes for his patrician buddies. He is also on record saying that an expansion of medicaid would be blocked by “political realities.”
But in the last day of the legislative session, those political realities had changed. The Senate, in one of its last business items before adjourning for the year, passed a bill 27-8 that would have made health insurance available to the 78,000 Idahoans who live in the Medicaid gap.
That was bad news to Boss Moyle. With the Senate gone for the year, his tax bill, which was waiting a final vote in the House, was effectively dead.
That’s when he flexed his muscle.
Reps. Caroline Nillson Troy (R-Genesee), Kelley Packer (R-McCammon), and Kristy Perry (R-Nampa) sent a letter to House leaders saying they would vote against all legislation in the next legislative session until a bill on the gap population received a full vote in the House.
Little did those lawmakers know, they wouldn’t have to wait until 2017. The next day, a health insurance bill was on the House floor.
Before the vote, Moyle called his members to a “really quick” closed-door caucus meeting. An hour later, lawmakers emerged and killed the bill on party lines. That’s right. Even the three who demanded a vote 24-hours earlier.
If three lawmakers, who want to help low-income Idahoans, can be thoroughly cowed by their leaders, do they actually represent the people who elected them?
It’s a sad day when state politicians turn their backs on Idahoans in favor of back-room party politics where loyalty and fealty trump good public policy.
We’re used to seeing it in Washington, D.C.
We better get used to seeing it in Boise. Because as long as Boss Moyle is in charge, that’s the way the people’s business is going to get done.