More on Rosa Parks in the Idaho Legislature and an unexpected apology from Nonini

Civil rights hero Rosa Parks’ name was invoked again Thursday by an opponent of a state health exchange, arguing Idaho shouldn’t cooperate with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, used Parks as an example of defying an unjust law — a category where Vick places Obamacare.

“Rosa Parks became famous, as a matter of fact sparked the civil rights movement,” Vick said during debate on Gov. Butch Otter’s state insurance exchange bill, House Bill 248, which passed 23-12 and heads to Otter. “Did she do that by taking the very best seat at the back of the bus? No, she did it by sitting at the front of the bus by not complying with the law.”

Vick also cited other acts of defiance in American history: the Boston Tea Party and the Underground Railroad. And he said the Supreme Court has upheld other unjust laws: segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine and the establishment of internment camps for Japanese during World War II.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, the only African-American in the 105-member Legislature, had a retort for Vick on her campaign Facebook page.

“I dare say that the name of Rosa Parks has been invoked in the Idaho Legislature more in the last couple of days than since her arrest for refusing to move to the back of the bus,” wrote Buckner-Webb, who voted for HB 248. “I am not amused.”

Last week, Buckner-Webb reacted more strongly to House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane’s mistaken claim that Parks defied the federal government when she, in fact, was fighting one of hundreds of state and local discrimination laws aimed at African-Americans.

“I felt the reference to be offensive and disrespectful,” she said of Crane’s remark.  “Jim Crow laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities. Those laws resulted in systematic disadvantage for African-Americans across the South, including limited access to health care and early death. The state health exchange, conversely, is meant to provide health care and extend lives through the treatment of all, including the disenfranchised.”


Shortly after Vick spoke, another opponent of HB 248, Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, had a few kind words for the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier. During the May 2012 primary campaign, Nonini campaigned against Tippets and several other Republican incumbents.

Nonini didn’t use the word “sorry” or “apology,” but he did say, upon reflection, that he is embarrassed by his behavior.

“In my short time here in this body, nine or 10 weeks, I have really grown to respect the senator from 32 (Tippets) and I will publicly say embarrassed by my actions last May, something that you’re probably all aware of,” Nonini said. “He’s quite the gentleman.”




Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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