Should Idaho provide its citizens with a map showing the location of state lands?
That was the question put to the Idaho House of Representatives. Their answer? By a vote of 43-26, lawmakers said “yes” to a more transparent government. But then something happened. Inexplicably, a second vote was called. And what happened next was bad for good governance, Idahoans and transparency.
Here’s the story and here’s a link to take action.
A resolution, HCR20 was introduced by Rep. Matt Erpelding and supported by many on both sides of the aisle, including the Republican chair of the House Resources committee, Rep. Marc Gibbs.
The bill would have provided a map to Idahoans that showed which state lands were private and which were publicly accessible.
The resolution would not cost any taxpayer money, but would inform all of Idaho what lands were accessible to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, skiing, climbing, and all the other activities that make Idaho great place to live, work, and raise family.
At first, the resolution looked set to pass. It was popular, bipartisan, and logical. Who doesn’t want an easily accessible resource, like a map- to help plan their next outdoor adventure? It passed in the house, 43-26.
But then a group of anti-transparency legislators flip flopped. And flip flopped spectacularly.
Together, the flip floppers passed a motion to reconsider HCR20, a rare and unseen move, especially considering that the resolution was heard twice by the committee members and had bipartisan support. This time the resolution, and Idaho’s outdoor enthusiasts, weren’t so lucky.
The second vote, driven by flip flopping legislators led by Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy and her anti-land buddies, defeated HCR20 in a vote of 23 in support and 46 against. Several value-driven and honorable legislators spoke in dismay and outrage by what their colleagues had done. Democrats and several Republicans agreed, this flip flop represented the worst of politicians playing politics with Idaho’s lands and not doing what’s best for everyday Idahoans.
Why this matters
Some Idaho politicians have gone as far to advocated for the transfer of federal lands to the state. If they get their way, they would make it even easier for politicians to sell these public lands, like they have done with those 1.7 million acres (and counting) that Idahoans have been already been shut out of.
HCR20 was a bipartisan attempt to inform Idahoans about publicly accessible state land. The resolution included the creation of a map that would have provided some transparency to state land management. Without this basic level of transparency, Idaho’s public won’t know what lands are being taken until they run into a closed gate, no trespassing sign, or private golf course on the land where they used to hunt, hike, climb, ski, fish, camp and more.
Our freedom to enjoy our land hangs in the balance, and when Idaho politicians vote against transparency and public access, they vote against Idaho.
Here is a list of the representatives who voted “yes” for government transparency, those who voted “no” and those who flip flopped on the bill – they owe you an explanation.