Analysis: Heather Scott’s demotion, and the legislative fallout

The big story from Week One of the 2017 Legislature is a no-brainer: the demotion of controversial conservative Rep. Heather Scott.

Heather Scott
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard

House Speaker Scott Bedke removed Scott from three House committees Thursday — a rare move, and a swift response to news reports about Scott’s remarks about fellow female lawmakers. Scott, R-Blanchard, has claimed that women only advance to leadership spots in the House if they “spread their legs.”

Scott did not have a seat on the House Education Committee — but that doesn’t mean she is silent on K-12 issues.

Last week, Scott and her closest House ally, Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, released what they called a “Freedom Agenda” for Idaho. Their far-reaching agenda included several education proposals:

  • Repeal of the Idaho Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test aligned to the Common Core standards.
  • Repeal of all standardized testing.
  • Allowing gun safety classes in high schools.
  • Establishing education savings accounts.
  • Amending Idaho’s “Blaine Amendment,” which forbids the use of state dollars to support church-run schools.

We’ve seen some of these ideas before. Nate introduced an anti-SBAC bill in 2015, and took a run at amending the Blaine Amendment in 2016. The SBAC bill never got a hearing, and the Blaine Amendment measure stalled out in House committee.

Technically, Scott can try to present any bills she likes; her demotion doesn’t preclude her from doing so. But there’s no guarantee her bills would get a hearing.

Lawmakers can also introduce “personal bills” — without going through the usual process of going through a committee to introduce a bill. Nate used this vehicle to introduce its anti-SBAC bill in 2015. However, a committee chair is under no obligation to give a personal bill a hearing, so these proposals usually die a quick death.

The Scott-Nate “Freedom Agenda” probably faced long odds a week ago. With Scott relegated to the House’s back bench, those odds would appear all but insurmountable.





Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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