Ten Republican politicians on the House State Affairs Committee killed an 8th grade student’s multi-year effort to have the Giant Idaho Salamander declared the state amphibian.
Bottom line: These GOP politicians do not back our kids when they actively engaged in a civic education. This was a chance to “walk the walk.” What’s important to kids doesn’t factor into their out-of-touch decisions. Not for nothing–there were 15 kids at the hearing and about 30 adults.
Testimony in favor of this focused on the importance of this bill to all of Idaho’s kids. Further, experts testified that the salamander, which is found in the Boise National Forest on up to Coeur d’Alene, is almost exclusive to Idaho and not endangered.
Eighth grade student Ilah Hickman, with the support of her parents, has been working on this project ever since 4th grade. Under the leadership of State Affairs Chair Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Bone), the committee refused to hear the bill last year. This year, they gave paltry reasons for stopping the bill.
Rep. Kathleen Sims (R-Coeur d’Alene) invoked the “spotted owl”, despite the fact that the Giant Idaho Salamander has a stable population. Basically, Sims said she doesn’t like animals.
Rep. Ken Andrus (R-Lava) said amphibians are icky. He recollected about he was creeped out by the “water dogs” at a some ol’ swimming hole down in Utah and ventured into tall-tale territory claiming the the water dogs became so darn numerous that they drove the humans away.
Loertscher, for his part, let Rep. Gayle Batt wield that gavel for this dismissive affair. Presumably he was hoping to avoid the headline from last year for “Breaking a Little Girl’s Heart.”
Other GOP committee folks just sat there looking grim and disinterested.
All four Idaho Democratic lawmakers voted to support the bill: Reps. Paulette Jordan (D-Plummer), Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise), John McCrostie (D-Boise), and Elaine Smith (D-Pocatello).
Jeers to these out-of-touch GOP politicians. They don’t like symbols?
Well, let the Giant Idaho Salamander be a symbol for the small talk of GOP politicians about investing in kids and supporting parents.
Note: Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) and Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise) co-sponsored the bill and have helped Ilah Hickman and her mother Lori Hickman try to gain passage.