A Senator Working for Idaho Grocery Tax Repeal

Last week a champion of the people’s Sovereignty in Idaho stepped forth to give them some relief and was wounded deeply and mercilessly for her effort.  Senator Christy Zito of Legislative District 23 proposed an expedient way to Repeal the Grocery Tax, something Idahoans have requested for more than a decade. This regressive tax is insidious and harms Idahoans with the least means.

The power to tax is an evil that when foisted upon citizens, when cautiously needed, is very difficult to repeal. Idaho is a prime example with the ten-year struggle we have had to get Grocery tax repeal. Interestingly, five states in our union do not have sales tax. Of the other 45, only 13 tax groceries.

Disgustingly, Idaho has the third highest grocery tax rate (6.1%) behind only two other states Kansas (6.5%) and Mississippi (7.0%). Proposing a higher Grocery Tax Rebate grows government and is not conservative. On February 1st, Senator Zito made a motion to add the grocery tax repeal to HB 436, an income tax reduction bill. Our constitution allows for more than one item per bill, so long as they are on the same subject.

Now, a grocery tax is very regressive. It requires families of the lowest income to pay the highest portion of that income to put food on the table. Conservative legislators champion limited government for the relief of the poorest among us. It appears that we may only be able to find one of those in the legislative upper house.

We believe and firmly defend that our legislatures are places where differences of opinion can be fastidiously defended. Senator Zito was twice wounded and denied her opportunity to present her differences last week. First by the excoriating press release by the Senate Majority Caucus Chair on Tuesday, and second on Wednesday when the Senate Majority Leader motioned to adjourn the session early at the very moment Senator Zito, advocate for Idaho’s poor, was providing for the record the explanation of her motives – a clever way to obstruct debate and waste nearly a half day of the legislature’s time. While adjourned, the Senate cannot conduct the people’s business.

We must not stand by idly when any person is treated by anyone else in our republic in a way that they themselves would not like to be treated, and we should stand up for Senator Zito who was treated so reprehensibly. This goes far deeper than the conduct of the members of our legislative bodies. It touches you and me. It is the Golden Rule, the basis of the morality which we must preserve to continue our republic with the blessing of Divine Providence. Absent that blessing, we will crumble as have other Republics during this world’s history. Against that possibility, we must begin anew and become more inclined to pray for those persons who by their actions are so disinclined to seek the same.

I believe we can disabuse each of our Senators and Representatives of such evil with the words that Albert Einstein gave us “Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.”

  • Brent Satterthwaite is the BCRCC assistant precinct committee officer in Precinct 41.

Governor Little Should Have “Let The People Go”

By Bryan Smith, Bonneville County Republican Central Committee Fourth Vice Chair

Last week while Governor Little was out of state, Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, acting as Governor in Little’s absence, signed an executive order that no political subdivision of Idaho could mandate masks.  This action prevented cities, local school boards, and others from mandating masks.  Upon his return, Little immediately rescinded McGeachin’s executive order.  Now local governments can once again mandate masks.

Little called McGeachin’s actions a “self-serving political stunt” and “an abuse of power,” adding, “This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny—something we all oppose.”  Little said, “the significant consequences of the Lt. Governor’s flimsy executive order require me to clean up a mess.”  

I think I’ve read about this kind of thing before.  About 3,400 years ago, there was a guy named Moses who was the executive champion of his constituents who really wanted their civil rights restored.  But there was another guy named “Pharoah,” who was the chief executive government official, and who was not the least bit interested hearing Moses’ pleas on behalf of his deplorable constituents.  Pharoah thought he knew best for Moses’ “deplorables” although Moses’ people begged to differ.  They thought they could best decide for themselves.

Moses talked to Pharoah a lot trying to convince him to let Moses’ constituents live their lives without government oppression.  One day, Moses was so frustrated with Pharoah’s obstinance, Moses proclaimed to Pharoah, “let my people go,” but Pharoah was having none of it.  Moses was patient, and when the opportunity presented itself, Moses restored his people’s civil rights.  When Pharoah figured out that Moses had outmaneuvered him and freed the people, Pharoah threw a fit and did what he could to reverse their freedom.  It’s kinds of a long story, but eventually, it didn’t work out well for Pharoah.

News reports at the time say Pharoah in a fit of rage called Moses’ actions a “self-serving political stunt” and “an abuse of power,” adding, “This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny—something we all oppose.”  Pharoah also muttered something about having to “clean up a mess” Moses created. 

Just as I’ve never understood how Pharoah could be mad at Moses for wanting his people to be free, I just cannot understand how Little can claim freeing people from government mask mandates is “over the top tyranny.”  Little’s argument makes sense only if McGeachin had issued an executive order forcing people to wear masks.  But how does Little equate restraining government with tyranny?

Little said something else I just don’t get.  Little said McGeachin’s executive order “runs contrary to a basic conservative principle—the government closest to the people governs best.”  But no decision maker is closer to the people than the people themselves.  And when it comes to personal health decisions like wearing a mask, I ask why government needs to be involved at all.  The truth is that each person will make a better choice about his health than any bureaucrat, regardless of whether that bureaucrat makes the choice at a local, state, or national level.  

The fact is that Little offers a false premise that local government can govern personal health choices better than individuals making decisions for themselves. If Little wanted to be true to conservative principles, he would have trusted the people to choose for themselves.  He would have “let the people go.”

Experts Exist to Advise, Not Govern

By Tom Luna – Chairman of the Idaho State Republican Party

Who sets public policy in Idaho? Who determines whether to close businesses, schools, require masks or face coverings, and decide how essential issues should be addressed? In the United States, and in Idaho, our constitutional republic clearly identifies who sets public policy – elected officials. In less than three months, we have an election on Tuesday, November 3, where the people decide who the elected officials will be that are making these decisions. However, some believe policy should not be set by elected officials, but rather experts in the field, whose role is to advise, not govern.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Idaho GOP lawmakers rightfully expressed concern on how decisions and public policy is being shaped. Idaho’s district health boards have exercised unchecked authority in setting policies that impact social gatherings, religious expression, and the opening of small businesses and schools. In the pursuit to enact sound public policy, some GOP lawmakers disagree with the recommendations of these health boards, and that disagreement is well within the right of our policy makers.

Recently, Idaho Democrats and local media outlets have unnecessarily scrutinized Idaho GOP lawmakers for the simple and foundational principle that elected officials set these policies, not our unelected experts. Good public policy is passed by considering the feedback of all Idahoans. This includes constituents, key stakeholders, business leaders, and yes, also expert opinions. After listening, it is then the role of our duly elected representatives to set public policy in Idaho as this is the role they were elected to do.

Let’s be clear – no lawmaker supports ignoring expert testimony on any issue. In fact, our elected officials consult expert opinions routinely, and it is fundamental to the policy-making process. However, expert opinions are one of many facets our legislators utilize to develop effective policy.

It is a dangerous precedent to allow unelected officials, such as public health boards, unilateral authority in determining public policy. Positions entrusted with the power for policy change are elected at all levels including legislators, city council, and even the local school boards. It is for this reason that GOP lawmakers rightfully supported stripping the public health districts of their unaccountable authority. In response to this unchecked authority, Representative Ryan Kerby said, “[Voters] have no recourse. They have no voice.”

Senator Thayn responded, “We listen to the advice of our experts in Idaho, but it is the responsibility of elected officials to set policy and listen to the people. These unelected officials sitting on our public health boards do not answer to the citizens they represent, and by allowing these officials to set policy, it shifts the balance of power from the people to unelected officials. This shift of power undermines the very foundation of our republic.”

Our founding fathers created a constitution that assures whoever makes decisions is held accountable to the people. These decisions are safeguarded by a system of checks and balances. It is not the proper role of our duly elected representatives to take a backseat in the policy-making process in lieu of the expert opinion of unaccountable officials. These experts exist not to govern but to advise.

It is this philosophy, of wise governance, birthed from the people, advised by the experts, and determined with the interests of all constituents in mind, that is at the core of our Party. The Republican Party trusts the people to weigh the facts and make decisions.


Idaho’s Republican party held its Convention in Nampa this past weekend, with 533 party delegates coming from all over the state. Bonneville County was well represented with 28 delegates. Our delegates worked hard, proposing platform changes that recognized American exceptionalism, the essential nature of the electoral college, and the need for a wall along the entire southern border of the United States. Our delegation also proposed a resolution reaffirming America’s unequivocal support for the state of Israel and its right to defend its sovereignty against terrorist attacks. We also proposed a rule change to better structure the financial relationship between the state party and the seven regions throughout the state. Each of the proposals submitted by Bonneville County was overwhelmingly accepted in the general session of the convention.

During the convention we were able to attend training sessions and hear speeches by Governor Little, Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, and outgoing State Party Chairman Raul Labrador. We were pleased to include Lt. Governor McGeachin in our County delegation, along with newly elected Representative Marco Erickson and Representative Barb Ehardt. Throughout the convention Bonneville County hosted a vendor table, exchanging Trump items (including gold Trump commemorative coins) for donations. All of the donations from this fundraising event will be used to reimburse delegates for their travel expenses and hotel bills. This prevents any delegate from being excluded because of a lack of financial means to attend the event. We received lots of donation support from other delegates, who expressed the desire that their own county delegations support similar funding programs.

Bonneville County was well represented in the races for various elected offices, with Bryan Smith and Damond Watkins competing for national committeeman, and Mark Fuller being challenged by Tom Luna for state party chairman. Damond Watkins prevailed in his race by one vote, after the withdrawal of Steve Yates, and Mark Fuller lost by the slim margin of only 12 votes. Former Superintendent of Education Luna was much better known throughout the state than Fuller and received the endorsement of businessman Frank Vandersloot, who did not attend but sent numerous emails to the delegates throughout the convention in support of Luna. After the Chairman’s race outcome was announced, Fuller’s concession speech included full support for Luna in a genuine effort to unify the party in its support for President Trump. Fuller received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his remarks.

The nearly equal vote count in both the chairman and national committeeman races shows the continued division within the Republican Party but does not detract from its unity in support of President Donald J Trump. Delegates to the national convention during August in Jacksonville, Florida were also selected, including numerous delegates from Bonneville County. Bonneville County delegates and officers enjoy the respect and friendship of delegates and officers from throughout the state, and conservatives were well-represented at the biennial Convention.

Anthony Tirino
Second Vice Chair
Bonneville County Republican Party

David Barton to Visit Bonneville County GOP’s Annual Lincoln Day Banquet!

Gear up for another WILDLY POPULAR Bonneville County Republican Lincoln Day Banquet on April 13. This will be the biggest GOP event of the year in the state of Idaho- you won’t want to miss it!

David Barton, founder of WallBuilders will be our keynote speaker. He will address us on the subject of “God and the Constitution”. David is a best-selling author and constitutional expert. Find out more at the links below.

We are also excited to announce that we will be hearing from our new Lt. Governor, Janice McGeachin! We are thrilled hear from her and to have her join us this year.

As always, there will be dinner, a gun giveaway, a silent auction, and raffle prizes. Tickets for this event have sold out for the past few years, so don’t delay buying your tickets or corporate table!

Ticket info:

Purchase tickets online or call:

Stephanie Gifford- 435-494-1192

For corporate tables contact:

Doyle Beck- 208-589-2326




Guest Editorial Series: You Can’t Have Everything

By Senator Tony Potts

Jackie Stephens, a precinct captain from the Bonneville County Democrats, recently wrote a commentary criticizing how partisanship is stifling K-12 education in Idaho. She argues Idahoans need to vote issues by personal view, not party view. By commentary’s end, she has switched the focus to November’s Medicaid-expansion initiative, a sleight of hand to use the subject of education to convince Idahoans to vote out of party-lines for Medicaid expansion.

Ms. Stephens attempts to persuade readers that Idaho’s education spending is insufficient compared to other states. The major political parties would agree that education is an investment in the future. Like any investment, the amount initially invested can have an influence. Yet, you can invest $1,000 that turns out profitable, or you may invest $1,000,000 that flatlines. Money does not guarantee a good result. Many factors lead to a great education outside of money’s influence, such as parent involvement and student engagement. So, let’s do ourselves a favor and quit assuming that Idaho’s education is “failing” just because Idaho does not offer the highest education spending out of all 50 states.

Ms. Stephens also attempts to persuade readers that teacher turnover is killing Idaho education. Yet, according to Learning Policy Institute’s report, “Teacher Turnover: Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It,” Idaho’s teacher turnover rate is around 13 percent. Idaho’s rate is less than most other states that were studied. And three percent of this rate is coming from teacher retirement, leaving just ten percent turnover from other factors.

Ms. Stephens also asserts that Idaho politics are being destroyed by voting straight party lines. At the end of her commentary, she mentions that Medicaid expansion can be an issue where Idahoans abandon this practice. Yet, out-of-state labor union cash bankrolled a good chunk of the ballot initiative’s signature-collection for Medicaid expansion in Idaho. And, as Ms. Stephens cites in her commentary’s byline, her position with the Bonneville County Democrats helped to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot. Last time I checked the efforts of county Democrats is partisan work.

And, because Ms. Stephens broached Medicaid expansion, I want to note how much more difficult it is to increase education funding as demand for Medicaid monies grows. A recent Idaho Freedom Foundation report concludes Medicaid spending is higher than K-12 education spending. In FY17, Medicaid expenditures were $194 million higher than K-12 education; in FY19, the difference is estimated to be as high as $308 million. Medicaid spending first exceeded K-12 education spending in FY11, though it wasn’t until FY15 that the Medicaid caseload was actually higher than the average daily attendance in K-12 schools.

Ms. Stephens’ commentary suggests that education is the true priority for Democrats. If that’s her main point, Democrats should rethink their efforts to support Medicaid expansion because they are actually doing education harm.

*Tony Potts is the Idaho State Senator for District 33, a Precinct Committeeman serving in the Bonneville County Central Committee, and the State Committeeman for the Bonneville County Central Committee.

Guest Editorial Series: Prop Two: A Gateway for Government-Run Healthcare

By Karie Caldwell

The push to expand Medicaid in Idaho is morphing into a movement for government-run healthcare—and that’s not good news for those who like affordable healthcare.

Idaho Freedom Foundation president Wayne Hoffman recently wrote a commentary in which he highlighted Reclaim Idaho’s long-term ambitions to implement a government-run healthcare system. He noted, such a system would be funded “through outrageously high taxes and a massive national debt to be paid by our kids and grandkids.” Hoffman is right. If every American were covered by Medicaid, that would require much higher taxes and almost certainly would add to an already outrageous national debt. A government-run healthcare system would not make healthcare “free,” but rather, it would just change the form of payment to taxes and debt.

Medicaid expansion is like a gateway drug for a single-payer system, which would foster dependency on government-run programs. And we had better watch within our own state, because, as Hoffman puts it, “Today’s Obamacare proponents are tomorrow’s single-payer activists.”

The United States boasts a mixture of private and government health programs, with many citizens purchasing private insurance and millions on Medicaid and Medicare. There is also a mixture of private and government hospitals, with veteran care provided by the government.

This mixture complicates healthcare regulations and costs. But the solution to high-cost healthcare is not to increase regulations and government-run programs. The ideal situation for a consumer would be to have multiple private companies competing for their business. Competition drives prices down. But government-run healthcare does not and will never work this way.

Expansion of Medicaid in Idaho may begin with Proposition Two, an attempt to extend “free” government healthcare to single, childless, working adults. This perpetuates the unaffordability of healthcare. As more citizens are covered by Medicaid, the cost of private coverage will increase as demand for health care services grows, and proponents of Medicaid expansion will find a new group deemed unable to afford healthcare. And expansion will just repeat.

The solution for healthcare affordability does not lie with a government-run healthcare program. Affordability comes from market competition provided by private programs. Passage of Proposition Two in Idaho will only get us further from the solution to high healthcare costs.

*Karie Caldwell serves as a Precinct Committee Officer and State Committee Woman in the Bonneville County Central Committee. Caldwell also serves as the Communications Director on the Bonneville County Central Committee Executive Committee.