The Idaho Republican Party State Central Committee meets Saturday to consider a short list of resolutions and party rule changes, including one supporting a Sunshine Law change and another adopting a presidential primary.
First off all, why do party rule changes and resolutions matter? Considering Republicans currently hold the majority of legislative seats and every state seat and congressional seat in Idaho, in-party decisions (like a rule to have a closed primary election) can have major implications for everyone in the state — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.
Resolutions aren’t legislation, but sometimes plant the seeds for future bill proposals.
The state central committee as a whole will consider the passed resolutions and rules on Saturday.
The resolutions committee voted not to pass a resolution to end the party’s closed primary after a spirited debate. Dennis Turner of Bear Lake County, who presented the amendment, cited declining voter participation in primary elections.
Committee vice chair Tyler Hurst struggled with the resolution. “I don’t understand why we would want people voting in our party if they don’t want to stand up and be counted as a member of our party,” Hurst said. Ultimately, the resolution died on a 5-8 vote.
Among the resolutions that did pass: A proposal to change to Idaho’s Sunshine Laws to increase the minimum amount on contributions and expenditures political committees must report. Currently, political committees with expenditures that exceed $5,000 must report individual annual contributions exceeding $50, and all individual expenditures exceeding $25. The proposal would raise the reporting requirement on individual contributions to $200 and expenditures to $100 for political committees with expenditures that exceed $20,000. That resolution passed the committee with just one no vote.
The committee also passed a resolution that supported the use of Bibles in school as instructional and reference texts. Some members of the committee expressed concern with other religious texts, such as the Quran, being used in the same way, while others questioned whether a change would violate the Idaho State Constitution. Ultimately, the divided committee amended the resolution to take out a phrase supporting classes on the Bible in school.
The rules committee adopted the presidential primary passed earlier this year by the Idaho Legislature. Committee members voted down a controversial “Pay To Play” proposal, which would punish county chairmen if their counties don’t pay party dues. The committee also declined to pass a proposal that would kick people off of the state central committee if they campaign against Republican nominees after the primary election.
“People should not be allowed to be in leadership and take positions against the people they are leading,” said presenter Chuck Reitz of Shoshone County. Ultimately, committee members had concerns about due process, and a motion to pass the rule out of committee died for lack of a second.
The rules committee made it through just one-fourth of its agenda before adjourning, meaning other rules — such as one that would disqualify candidates for state or congressional office from holding central committee seats — won’t be considered this year.