Idaho Legislature should have its own "Luna Laws"

posted Mar 9, 2012, 2:23 AM by Clayton Trehal
Idaho Legislature should have its own "Luna Laws"
Travis Manning, printed in the Idaho Press Tribune, March 8, 2012

Last week, Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, along with announcing his retirement, said in an interview with Idaho PTV’s Greg Hahn, “I am concerned … what I’m seeing right now is there are more people [in the current Idaho legislature] willing to follow how somebody else is voting, rather than stand up and make their own decisions.”

It is clear this is precisely what happened with Mr. Luna’s 3 education reform laws.  Fortunately, this Nov. 6 the state of Idaho will have the opportunity to right these wrongs at the ballot box.

Idahoans do not appreciate inattentive lawmakers.  But legislators like Rep. Darrell Bolz , R-Caldwell, can be thanked for listening to constituents, defying the party mandate, and voting against those ill-conceived edicts.  Granted, Rep. Bolz will never get a chairmanship, but, unlike some, he’s not in it for the power.

I think it would be instructive if Idaho legislators applied the Luna laws to themselves.

To save precious tax dollars, lawmakers should go entirely online.  Committee and caucus meetings could happen via video link.  This would allow legislators to remain in their home districts closer to their families and the citizenry they serve.  No travel and per diem issues.

Merit pay.  Let’s compensate legislators based on how well they adhere to the majority voice of their constituency.  Let’s improve transparency and accountability to voters.  Instead of 2-year terms, let’s make their “contracts” 1 to 2 years, depending upon performance.

Every legislator is already given a laptop, but let’s reduce their exorbitant salaries over 5 years to pay for both it and the merit pay.  Idaho comes first, right?  Let’s not apply “the ol’ 19th Century way of doing things in this the grand 21st Century.”   

Reduction in force (RIF).  Let’s put term limits on the older legislators, those with all that institutional memory, large network of contacts, mastery of the subject matter, those who have really perfected their craft, you know—the expensive lawmakers.  Let’s “reward” them for a lifetime of service by firing them.

Union busting.  Let’s do away with the dominant political party.  Like unions, the dominant political party serves no real purpose other than to resist progressive change and prosperity for all.  Let’s “party bust,” then tell Idahoans, “It’s really about what’s best for Idaho.” 

And akin to the propaganda being shoved down the throats of Idaho’s school districts, let’s put more regulation on the legislature, enact more federal laws, weigh them down with mandates, and tell them, “We’re really giving you more power, more ‘local control.’”

Finally, like the bill currently before the Idaho Senate to raise the cap on charter schools, let’s raise the number of legislators we have in office.  Currently, it stands at only 105 senators and representatives.  Let’s entirely lift this cap to whatever the business lobby wants.  Big Corporation is better than Big Government, right?

Travis Manning is Executive Director of the Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho and can be reached at