The Senate State Affairs Committee agreed to introduce legislation that would make a sizable shift in how the government interacts with gun owners and public sector unions, but both ideas for sweeping change won’t be going anywhere this year. The senators sponsoring both plans say they will sit on the proposals until the next legislative session.
Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, who leads the committee, introduced a plan to get rid of Idaho’s concealed carry permits for guns and allow all citizens to carry concealed weapons, as long as they haven’t had their Second Amendment right to bear arms revoked. The legislation would still outlaw carrying concealed weapons in some public places, including courthouses and prisons.
“We wanted to get the idea out there, but I didn’t have the intention to move it forward or bring it back to committee (for a hearing),” McKenzie said during the hearing. The plan, called constitutional carry by some supporters, is backed by the National Rifle Association. Arizona, Alaska and Vermont have similar laws on the books. Montana, with some limits, allows anyone to carry a concealed weapon outside of city limits.
McKenzie said many Idahoans have the right to carry a concealed weapon without getting a permit, including elected legislators and retired law enforcement officers, and his legislation would extend it to all citizens.
McKenzie’s committee also agreed to introduce a plan that would eliminate all collective bargaining by government employees. That plan, from Sen. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian, would apply to teachers, firefighters, and any other public sector workers. Those workers would be barred from striking under state law if the plan passes.
“I’m expecting the unions to holler,” said McKague, who said she’d bring back the plan next year. “It probably won’t be passed next year, but it needs to be discussed, in a friendly manner hopefully.” McKague said there’s no vendetta behind the plan, which explicitly says that the state would promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between the government and its workers.
The committee agreed to introduce the plan, but it’s not certain the lawmakers would support it next year. ”This bill comes as quite a surprise,” Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise said. “I would have some serious questions I’d want to have answered about what you’re trying to accomplish and what’s the problem here.”
One plan the State Affairs Committee printed that could move forward this year is a call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would let states call for a constitutional convention on a single subject. Currently, Congress starts the process to amending the Constitution, with states then approving the amendment before it becomes part of the country’s founding document.
McKenzie backed the plan, called the Madison Amendment, that would require two-thirds of all state legislatures to ask for a convention of a single subject. Former U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick backed a similar plan in Congress last year.
“It is appropriate for both the states and Congress to have ways to amend the Constitution,” McKenzie said. “I think it’s a good idea, and it’s a way for the states to limit federal powers outside some of the proposals we’ve seen [including] nullification.”
McKenzie’s committee is set to discuss the plan to nullify the federal health care reforms next week. He said he was concerned about the original version of the nullification plan, but supports some of the changes made on a revised version of the plan that passed the House.
Others in the committee support McKenzie’s call for the Madison Amendment. “My concerns have been alleviated and this is a very solid approach, especially if we can get other states to join in doing so,” said Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls.