House Majority Leader Mike Moyle enjoyed a perfect record as a floor sponsor, never losing a bill once it reached the full House in almost 16 years representing northwestern Ada County.
That spotless success ended in the final hour of the 2014 Legislation, when the Star Republican’s effort to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot died.
Moyle’s prospects for continuing his winning streak looked good, after Senate Joint Resolution 103 passed the Senate 34-1 on March 11. SJR 103 would have amended what Moyle described as an archaic and unenforced constitutional provision that says every able-bodied man aged 18 to 45 “shall be enrolled in the militia, and perform such military duty as may be required by law.”
“We’re not doing it,” Moyle said Thursday evening in a debate that engaged 16 lawmakers and ran about 45 minutes. “Why aren’t enrolling these guys? Because we know it’s not necessary. We know it’s not necessary and we don’t want to do it.”
The ballot would have asked whether Section 1, Article XIV of the Idaho Constitution should be “amended to eliminate the drafting of Idaho citizens and to provide that all able-bodied residents of Idaho age eighteen years or older are subject to military service in accordance with law?”
The amendment would have redefined those subject to military duty as able-bodied adult men and women, making them members of the “unorganized militia.”
But Moyle got “wing-tipped” as the left and right factions of the House — 11 Democrats and 26 Republicans — voted to kill the measure on a 33-37 vote. The resolution required a two-thirds margin, or 47 votes.
“I’ll confess to you: I didn’t know it was in the Constitution,” said Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis. “If I had, I might have tried to uphold and defend it just because it’s there. I just have a problem with if you don’t like what’s in the Constitution just get rid of it.”
“We do need a militia,” said Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, who added that he’s working on organizing an Elmore County sheriff’s posse. “If you want to change that age up to 75, I’ll be glad to be there.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. John Gannon of Boise objected to expanding the militia to all adults, regardless of age and gender. Rather, said Gannon, who served eight years in the Army Reserve, “We ought to look at repealing it.”
After the vote, Moyle told colleagues, “That’s the first one I lost,” winning both laughter and applause. Pointing to the electronic tote board lit with 37 names in red and 33 in green, Moyle added, “That looks like a Christmas card; I think I’ll use it.”
Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, who helped defeat SJR 103, said, “I’d like to compliment the good gentleman on being a gracious loser.”
“It’s a little early for that,” cracked House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, though adjournment was minutes away.
Retorted Moyle: “Mr. Speaker, shall I remind him about paybacks are a —?”
“Yeah,” said Bedke, quickly adding, “Well, before we digress much further.” The House then swiftly passed the final five measures of 2014 — three Senate resolutions and two appropriations bills — and adjourned at 6:58 p.m.
While Moyle lamented his loss, adjournment marked what is believed (by me) to be first time I accurately picked the ending day of the session in 26 years on the beat.
Loyal readers who also are Facebook friends may remember my Legislature Eve prediction that lawmakers would adjourn March 20.
The secret is my new method — counting shirts I ironed while watching football in December and January. Tallying the all-cotton lineup stacked in my bedroom closet, I reached 54. Consulting the kitchen calendar, I checked off weekdays beginning Jan. 6 and settled on March 20 — representing the last of 54 clean shirts.
While I guessed right, I finished second in Senate Doorkeeper Al Henderson’s sine die derby. My chosen hour for adjournment was 5:31 p.m. Lobbyist Brody Aston picked 6:02 p.m., about an hour before sine die (Latin for “without day”).