The House Education Committee began its consideration of Senate Bills 1108 (the union-busting bill) and Senate Bill 1110 (the unfunded pay-for-performance bill) this morning and heard nearly four hours of testimony. After Superintendent Luna tried to make his case for the bills, an array of educators, parents, and students had their turns.
Unlike in the Senate Education Committee two weeks ago, the House panel abandoned the pretense of having “balanced” testimony and let people speak regardless of their position on the bills. Testimony wound up about six-to-one against the bills, with several dozen people left to talk when Chairman Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene) concluded the meeting. Read more about the testimony on these Twitter feeds: IdahoEdAssoc and RNettinga and at the Idaho Statesman.
Testimony will continue tomorrow starting at 8 a.m. in the Capitol Auditorium, and votes on the bills are likely on Thursday. But media reports following the meeting should make Idahoans wonder whether the lawmakers are hearing anything people say. Both the Idaho Statesman and the Eye on Boise news blog quoted Nonini as saying none of the testimony changed his mind on any aspect of the bills. From Eye on Boise:
Asked whether anything he heard today – with the testimony running nearly 6-1 against the bills – changed his mind, Nonini replied, “Nothing.” He was a supporter of the bills going into the hearing. Several people testified today that Idahoans are overwhelmingly against the plan, so lawmakers shouldn't enact it. Nonini responded that he attended a “town hall meeting” in his North Idaho district where about 60 people attended, and they were “8 to 9 to 1 in favor of the plan. So I guess it depends on the setting. … When we go out in our own communities we see a lot different mix.” Asked afterward about that meeting, Nonini said it was sponsored by the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, the Panhandle Pachyderms, and the North Idaho Pachyderms, all Republican clubs.