‘Statists’ dominate Legislature 64-41, says Idaho Freedom Foundation

The Idaho Freedom Foundation’s report on the 2013 Legislature says 64 of 105 Idaho lawmakers, including House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, “favored expansion of government or statism” based on an analysis of 149 votes.

The 148-page “Freedom Index Report” says just 41 lawmakers had voting records “favoring economic freedom.” Of the 105 Gem State lawmakers, 85 are Republicans, 20 are Democrats.

The Freedom Foundation, a tax-exempt group funded by undisclosed contributions, made defeating Gov. Butch Otter’s state-run health insurance exchange its top priority and rewarded and punished lawmakers accordingly. Votes were given widely different weighting in the scorecard.

The top House score went to Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, who earned a plus 142. The top Senate score belongs to Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, at plus 137.

The lowest House score went to Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, at minus 96. Ranked last in the Senate was Assistant Senate Minority Leader Elliot Werk, D-Boise, at minus 88.

House Speaker Bedke, R-Oakley, scored a minus 18; Senate President Pro Tem Hill, R-Rexburg, scored a minus 72.

One Democrat won IFF’s approval: Sen. Branden Durst of Boise, who voted against the insurance exchange and received a plus 49 score.

In a Friday email to lawmakers announcing the report, IFF’s Director of Operations Erik Makrush writes:

“The Index was created to let Idahoans know where their respective legislators stand on issues, as well provide a tally for voters and citizens to use as a measure on how lawmakers may or may not be supporting free market solutions, private property rights, individual responsibility and transparent, limited government.

“No organization besides IFF has taken the time and effort to craft such a report. We take seriously our mission as a nonpartisan educational group watchdogging issues in the state.”


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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