Herndon proud to tango in lock-step with ILA

By Idaho Senator Scott Herndon

Scott HerndonIs the Idaho Senate actually conservative? Idaho  is a “red” state. We are dominated by Republicans. In the Idaho legislature – senate and house – we have a supermajority of Republicans. 85-percent of Idaho’s state legislators identify as Republican. In the Idaho senate, 28 of the 35 senators are Republican, which is 80-percent. But do these senators vote like Republicans?

To answer that question, a new report is out from the Institute for Legislative Analysis (ILA). The ILA aren’t newbies when it comes to evaluating legislators. In fact, the staff at ILA started the institute after leaving the American Conservative Union where they rated thousands of legislators and countless bills across every state.

Earlier this year in my first session in the Idaho senate I voted on 335 different pieces of legislation. Most people in Idaho only know the R or the D behind their legislator’s name and don’t have the time to evaluate every single vote of their legislator.

That is where ILA comes in. The ILA just issued their scorecard for Idaho’s 2023 session. To evaluate our legislators, they took a cross section of the total bills we voted on and rated 50 senate bills for whether they represented Republican principles of limited and conservative government.

The scorecard has found that a number of Idaho Republicans are incorrectly aligning themselves with a political party that does not match their values based on their voting records.

The study reassigned each lawmaker to the correct political party that matches their philosophical values based upon their votes. The data reveals that philosophically Democratic lawmakers are actually in control of the Idaho Senate (21 Democrats to 14 Republicans).

All lawmakers are placed on a 0 to 100 political ideology scale based on their adherence to the limited government principles of the U.S. Constitution. Scores of “0% – 50%” equate a Democrat philosophy while scores of “51% – 100%” mark a Republican philosophy.

The ILA applies the same methodology to every state it researches. In most states, including California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, not a single self-defined Republican scored below a 60%. Idaho represents one of the very worst cases of fraudulent party identification.

The bottom line? Only 14 of Idaho’s 28 Republican senators actually voted like Republicans according to ILA’s analysis.

One example analyzed was House Bill 24, the Idaho Launch program. The bill provided $8,000 grants to every high school graduate for workforce training for certain “in-demand careers”.

The way I summarize the bill is that Idaho will now take the $6 of sales tax that your fixed income grandmother just paid on her last $100 in groceries and will redistribute that $6 from grandma to train able-bodied young workers for wealthy corporations in Idaho that already have excellent sales and healthy cash flows. Before Idaho Launch, these corporations have always paid out of their own sales to train their own workers.

Idaho Launch is a left leaning Democratic socialism plan for corporate welfare, but 13 of Idaho’s 28 senate Republicans voted in favor of this shiny new $80 million government program.

I am happy to report that based on how I voted on the 50 bills analyzed by the Institute for Legislative Analysis, I was rated at 98-percent representing a thoroughly conservative voting record for limited government.

The real question is how do we get Idaho Republican lawmakers to vote like Republicans?

The first step is to recognize that we have a problem. That is what this ILA scorecard does. Of course, we already knew about the problem because the Idaho Freedom Foundation rates a much greater number of bills and draws the same conclusions. Analysis from the American Conservative Union of previous sessions of the Idaho legislature also showed the same problem.

In fact, one of the reasons I ran for the senate was because of the very liberal voting record of my “Republican” predecessor.

The solution for me is to keep voting like I have been – maintaining a voting record consistent with fiscally responsible and limited government so that you keep more of what you earn and don’t have to deal with an overbearing state government.

The solution for you is maybe to help keep me in office.

The solution for you may also be to help conservatives get elected that are running against Republican lawmakers that have a liberal voting record. I know of three challengers to three liberal incumbents. They are in Twin Falls and SW Idaho. If you want to know how to help these conservative challengers, call me at (208) 610-2680.

The good news is that we have made progress. We have 14 senators voting like Republicans, and before I got in office, that number was low single digits.

Editor’s Note: According to Wikipedia, the Institute for Legislative Analysis is an American political research organization which “serves as a data and policy hub for right-of-center organizations” and analyzes legislation introduced in the US Congress and the 50 state legislatures. The ILA constructs scorecards for other national conservative and libertarian organizations through its Limited Government Index (LGI), which is a platform containing bill analyses and lawmaker vote data to “help the groups more effectively lobby lawmakers and deploy their activists.”

Of all Idaho legislators, two Republican members of the House (both from North Idaho, both serving District 2) scored higher “conservative” credentials than did Herndon; Dale Hawkins, Fernwood, and Heather Scott, Blanchard, both with a score of 98.17 percent, each casting 56 votes that were considered. Herndon tied with Senator Tammy Nichols, Middleton, for third and fourth place, both with 50 votes tallied and being rewarded for voting the ILA way 97.94 percent of the time.

Serving District 1, Representative Sage Dixon, Ponderay, considered a staunch far right Republican conservative when he was elected to the District 1B seat in 2014, ranked 24th with an 87 .74-percent on 54 votes considered, and Mark Sauter, Sandpoint, ranked 57th with 47.71 percent of his 56 votes meeting ILA approval.

Voting along with the most extreme of radical factions nearly all the time doesn’t make one a good legislator, no matter the party affiliation, because no one is elected to an office of public trust to serve the party. Instead they are there to serve the people, all the people, of their district. They may differ from your moral judgment as regards  religion, politics or any one of myriad reasons, but if they’re citizens in your district, they aren’t enemies, “vermin” to be eradicated. They are constituents.

Constituent means “part of a whole.” The word comes up often in political contexts: constituents are the people politicians have been elected to represent.

To vote in line with a radical faction, whether you’re a true believer or you’re chasing after their approval and money, does not equate to being a good conservative, a good legislator nor a good representative … and certainly not a good member of your party. Quite the opposite. It merely indicates a gift for being led about by the nose. – Mike Weland