The governor’s veto power is an important check on the legislature, especially when it passes unconstitutional, unjust, or cruel measures. Unfortunately, Governor Little has a history of signing bad legislation, even while acknowledging it will be overturned (usually after expensive lawsuits). This week Little was the last person standing in front of two disastrous, poorly constructed bills that attack our freedoms. Sadly, history repeated itself as he signed them into law.
As part of an onslaught of bills targeting LGBTQ+ Idahoans, HB 71 criminalizes gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Idaho. The ban includes treatments endorsed by major medical associations and proven to reduce suicidality, anxiety, and depression. These treatments have been a godsend to families who have seen their children transform back into the healthy, happy kids they knew them to be.
In his transmittal letter, Little espoused respect for parental rights and caution when the government intervenes in private decisions. These words ring hollow when attached to his signature enacting this intervention. He signed away the rights of loving parents to access the medical care they choose for their children. This makes it harder, if not impossible, for Idaho businesses to keep talented employees in this state if they have a transgender child. It is also another assault on our doctors who face increasing hostility in a state that continues to legislate prison time for meeting the standard of care.
In another attempt to control our personal healthcare decisions, Little signed GOP legislation giving Idaho a dubious distinction: the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion care. HB 242 criminalizes an older sister, grandmother, or other trusted adult who helps a teenager across state lines for a legal abortion. The unconstitutional bill makes such assistance punishable by up to five years in prison. It will force young victims of rape or incest who can’t safely report these crimes to their parents to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. The vague language could also criminalize nonprofits that inform young women of their options.
The new extremist Idaho Republican Party has turned legislators into “morality police” governing the most intimate aspects of our lives, from personal medical care to the books we read. Idahoans desperately need a governor who will stand up for reason and protect our freedoms from the extreme right flank of his party. Governor Little is clearly not up to this task.
We now turn to the courts in hopes they will stop these dangerous laws before they go into effect. But ultimately, the power is in our hands. We must elect leaders who will protect our freedoms. And we must hold those who don’t accountable at the ballot box.
Lauren Necochea, Idaho Democratic Party Chair