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Guns, immigration, federal money on constituents' minds

by REP. HEATHER SCOTT Contributing Writer
| April 1, 2021 1:00 AM

The Idaho legislature recessed last Friday for two weeks and will return on April 6th to finish up the 2021 session. Over 575 pieces of legislation have made their way through the system, and by the end of session, approximately 350 of those will become law.

No legislation has been signed into law to date that would end the emergency, restore the balance of power, or give much needed property or food tax relief for Idaho citizens.

Many of the questions I have addressed from citizens over the last month have been centered around the uncertainty of the Biden administration’s agenda’s and policies. Guns, illegal immigration, and the flood of federal money have been at the top of citizens’ concerns.

Remember, Idaho does have a choice when it comes to these issues. It takes strong leadership and the belief in the resourcefulness and determination of the people of our state to stand up to federal overreach and act as a sovereign, independent thinking, self-reliant state.

Unfortunately, we presently lack that leadership.

The next round of federal money — The America Rescue Plan — is on its way and Idaho appears to be an overzealous recipient with both hands out. Gone is the independent western pioneer spirit that forged Idaho into a strong sovereign state. It has now been replaced by a federal welfare mentality that will wreak fiscal damage to generations of future Idahoans.

The reality is that the executive branch and majority of legislators want to take the money, disregarding the glaring and subtle implications certain to follow. Idaho stands to receive $1.3 billion in state fiscal relief, $600 million in local fiscal relief, and more than $455 million in relief for K-12 schools. Over 90% of Idaho’s citizens will receive economic impact payments of up to $1,400 per person which includes more than 1.1 million adults and 521,000 children.

Most of that money will come with strings attached, and many of those strings (rules) on taking the money have not even been written yet. One string was clear: If Idaho takes the money, it cannot be used for tax relief in any way. Tax relief, the most frequently requested legislative action by citizens is ignored in favor of federal fiscal bondage. The implications will be far reaching.

Another active issue which I have received many calls about relates to illegal immigrants being dropped off in North Idaho. I have not been able to confirm these claims. I am still looking into this, but if it is happening, it appears to be bypassing any state oversight (which is typical). In the past, many of the federal dollars spent on refugee resettlement programs were paid directly to nonprofits and participating churches and purposely bypassed state and local government oversight. If I get any more information I will let you know in my legislative updates.

And then there is the Second Amendment questions. Are they coming for our guns? Even though Idaho is one of the most Second Amendment friendliest states in the union, the federal government seems to have its own agenda. In 2014 the Idaho legislature passed the Idaho Federal Firearm, Magazine, Register Ban Enforcement Act (S1332) that prohibits Idaho law enforcement officers in assisting in enforcing any type of federal gun laws.

The Idaho Constitution (although many times ignored) disallows confiscation of firearms except those actually used in committing a felony. I think there will be other ways the federal government might try to come after our guns such as insurance companies’ denial of coverage, claims of mental illness, ammo shortages and high taxes on manufacturers, and red flag laws, to name a few.

I remain confident Idaho will stand strong on this issue, but we must remain vigilant.

I wish citizens were as alert and vocal on other issues as they are on infringement on our Second Amendment rights. Our speech has been suppressed by big tech, our freedom of travel was restricted by a tyrannical governor, our right to assemble was infringed, our right to life and liberty has been attacked.

If we don’t remain vigilant in all things, we might wake up one day with only our gun rights left!

Rep. Heather Scott represents Bonner and Boundary counties in the Idaho Legislature in District 1A. She can be reached at hscott@house.idaho.gov.