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What 'Radiator Capping' SB 1133 Really Did

Times-News Editorial Board
April 1, 2013
Twin Falls Times-News

They call it "radiator capping." In this metaphor, the radiator cap is taken off of a vehicle. The original vehicle is removed and an entirely new vehicle is driven under the cap, which is then screwed onto the radiator.

The legislature did it this Tuesday with the school safety bill that we've written about extensively in this paper and on this Opinion page. Though it had some serious problems - namely the shoehorning of several public records exemptions within its language - it was a bill with good intentions. The school safety bill (SB 1133) would have required school districts to come up with safety plans in cooperation with the local sheriff.

There were a lot of questions about the bill, but instead of asking those questions, Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, "radiator capped" it. He amended the bill in a way that removes its language entirely and replaced it with a new vehicle - the text of his own gun-rights bill, HB 280, and the text of HB 219.

The only thing that stayed the same was the bill number.

You'll recognize those gun-rights bills from earlier stories about them. HB 219 got the most attention as it would have made it a criminal offense for Idaho law enforcement to enforce here-to-date hypothetical, newly enacted federal gun seizure laws.

We're not here to argue about the merits of either of those gun bills.

We're concerned about the process - the "radiator capping."

Radiator capping is amateur, it's petty and cynical.

That said, it's hard to know just where to start in commenting on Tuesday's actions.

Should we start by asking what happened to the school safety bill? (Answer: It is gone. "That has been removed in this amendment," Monks responded during the debate.)

Maybe a better question is to ask what happened to the due process for the gun-rights bills?

Should we start by asking why this underhanded tactic is even legal? If it's legal, can we ask why anyone considers it ethical?

If there weren't any reporters there to watch over this romper room, how would the voters know that SB 1133 isn't the school safety bill that went through committee, was approved by the Senate and found its way to the floor of the House?

A reporter was there to witness and share these shenanigans with the public, but it makes us wonder: What haven't we been there to witness? Maybe we should just ask: Who are these people, how did they get elected and have they lost their minds?

To say we have lost faith and trust in our leaders is an understatement.

We sit in shock at the maturity level that Monks showed. If he were running to represent the Magic Valley, we would lead the charge for his ouster.

Unfortunately, House Speaker Scott Bedke was not on the floor when this vote went through. Bedke has shown us this session that he is a thoughtful and cool-headed leader.

We are embarrassed that the House leadership that was present let this go through.

According to Betsy Russell, legislative reporter for the Spokesman-Review, there was an objection that the amendment violated House rules because it wasn't relevant to the bill, but House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, ruled it relevant.

"The chair has ruled that it is - there is a nexus between school security and firearms," Crane said. When a voice vote on the amendment was too close to call, division was called for, and Crane declared that the motion had carried. That means SB 1133 is no longer a school-safety bill, and is now a compilation of the two House-passed gun rights bills."

If the House was going to kill a bill - the school safety bill - they should have just killed it. Instead, they took two bills that the Senate refused to hear, repackaged them as SB 1133, which the Senate had already passed, and sent it back to them.

The Senate will now have to vote again on the "new" version of SB 1133.

What a waste of everyone's time and taxpayer dollars.

House members who supported this radiator capping have been in the Boise bubble too long and need to be reminded by their constituents that we expect more from them.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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