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Stop smirking, Grandpa

With great fondness I remember the facial expressions of my grandfather. I remember also that I often could not interpret their meaning.

Time, and the Legislature, is teaching me that when grandpa witnessed follies he also had a remarkable view into future probabilities and outcomes because he remembered and respected the lessons he learned from history. I know what his face would look like if I were telling him this story.

The Senate took up House Bill 464 which is about drilling for oil and gas. However, H464 is much more than that. Under H464 the Department of Lands would have regulatory authority of the activity and where the drilling occurs in a county. Under H464 cities and counties would have restricted aesthetic and ancillary authority but they would not be permitted to limit or restrict the activity itself.

This is more than an argument about property rights or fracking (fracturing layers to allow the flow of gas) or local control. Some years ago a Democrat Senate Minority Leader proposed a plan for a regional site authority to make decisions with respect to where such things as large power generators, wind towers, or even large dairies should appropriately exist.

The general premise was to protect individual property rights while acknowledging that there are activities that one individual, or county, can undertake that might have significant impact on the neighbors.

The idea was shot down, legislatively speaking, because it was usurping local control.

At the same time, there has been a growing distrust of state agencies by Republican legislators. Agency proposals and actions are often considered to be synonymous with bigger government and those same agencies are deemed to be anti-libertarian.

The Great Recession happened. Oil and gas reserves have been discovered in the United States and feverish economic activity has begun in certain states with more to follow. Idaho is certainly in line to become the beneficiary of new technology and discoveries. With a focus toward better times and prosperity statewide, H464 successfully usurps local control and hands it over to a state agency.

It was even suggested that a well at the foot of the capitol steps would be just fine – and it would be for some. Some of us, though fully supportive of the industry, believed that one more opportunity to evaluate the role of local control was entirely appropriate. We were successful in moving the bill to the amending order; however, before amendments could even be proposed and reviewed it was successfully retrieved from the amending order by the proponents. Even that opportunity to evaluate some final proposals was taken from us and the people of Idaho.

I do not recollect when I began to understand the meaning of the word irony but I know it when I see it. A majority has a very profound responsibility to listen to and protect the minority: First, because a really bad minority idea one day may be a really good majority idea on another day; and second, because the majority that does not listen respectfully and with appreciation to the minority might one day find themselves in the minority.

Stop smirking, Grandpa.

Republican state Sen. Tim Corder represents Mountain Home.

About Sen. Tim Corder

One comment

  1. How does it “usurp local control”, when technically Idaho is not a constitutional home-rule state, and such “local control” is for all intents & purposes, (especially when some driller takes this to a higher court), moot?

    You wait Senator, somebody’s going to hit a serious natgas or oil “play” and the big money will come down hard against Idaho (in court), which remains the only state west of the Mississippi without constitutional home-rule for the towns, cities, and counties. At that point the state will have to get serious, and won’t be able to dodge its responsibility.

    Claiming you’ve ever given Idaho municipalities & counties “local control” is the biggest lie in state government. It simply doesn’t exist without the century-old legal doctrine of home-rule power, like 36 other states have in their constitutions.