From the April 2001 Idaho Observer:


The Legislature's 14th Order: Lying in an “emergency” and the passage of SB 1070

Published for all to see in a manual entitled “Rules of the Senate” is the 14th Order. Those who have ever testified before a legislative committee or have lobbied legislators for the passage of a bill must agree that lawmaking is one of the most corrupt, special interest driven enterprises in the world -- public service is drowned by money and power. With that in mind, we can understand that politics is nothing more than an orgy of money, power and special interest. Legislators simply pretend to address the interests of the public when, in reality, they are facilitating the expansion of government and the wealth of their friends in the private sector. But you cannot fully appreciate the full potential for legislative mischief until you understand the 14th Order and how it is used to pass Machiavellian legislation.

by Bill Denman

Are "We The People" voting for expansion of government without understanding that it necessarily results in a loss of freedom? If election results are any indication of this trend, the answer to that question must be an indisputable "YES."

As an example of this loss of freedom, we will review SB1070 which was recently introduced in the Idaho State Senate by Senator Darrel Deide. This bill amends, and adds to, laws relating to school facility funding. If public statements by Senator Keough are an indication of her thinking on this subject, SB1070 will have her full support.

Since a popular pastime seems to be "beating the government to death," perhaps we should review some background information that illustrates how "We The People" are ultimately responsible for this loss of freedom. Seven Idaho Constitutional Amendments were submitted to voters in 1998; four of them effectively eliminated most barriers to unlimited state debt and state funding of local school facilities projects.

A majority of voters approved all seven amendments. State funding of local school facilities projects takes control away from local taxpayers. Thus, the people have lost the freedom to say no to school projects with which they disagree.

Furthermore, the voting records of state legislators shows conclusively that they favor ever increasing government interference in the peaceful activities of Idaho citizens. During each election, "We The People" reelect these "big government" advocates to office. Thus it's clear that freedom is no longer important to most of "We The People"; consequently it is rapidly disappearing.

SB1070 is just one of many bills currently introduced in the 2001 session of the Idaho State Legislature that further erode our freedom. SB1070 amends Section 33-905, Idaho Code, which currently says: "1. The state of Idaho ... hereby creates and establishes the school district building account in the state treasury. The school district building account shall have paid into it such appropriations and revenues as may be provided by law." (Emphasis added)

In other words, the legislature has written a blank check to itself for any funding it desires. In subsections two and four of this same code there were specific limitations on the distribution of state lottery dividends and interest - these limitations will be deleted by SB1070.

Subsection 5 of 33-905 originally specified that money received from the state building account could only be used to "acquire, purchase or improve a school site or school sites; to build a schoolhouse ... or other buildings; to demolish or remove school buildings, to add to, remodel or repair any existing building; to furnish and equip any building ... and to purchase school buses."

The requirement for these uses of state money has been deleted and the following wording inserted: "Payments ... received by a school district shall be used for purposes described by the district in the application."

The highlighted and underlined words are the additions and are exactly as they appear in SB1070. In other words all restrictions on the use of these funds have been removed and local school districts (and Charter Schools) can obtain money from the state for practically any purpose.

In addition to the amendments described above, SB1070 adds three new sections and amends two more existing codes. New Section 33-906 creates a "School Facility Support Fund." This fund "... may be expended by the state department of education at any time ..." and can be used to reduce bond interest and redemption, reduce the dollar certification for school plant facilities levies and reduce the bond principal.

New Section 33-907 allocates moneys from the state lottery and foundation support (from state endowment lands) to the school facility support fund created by 33-906. When 33-907 was first introduced, it contained a provision for an allocation to the School Facility Support Fund from "extraordinary gains" accruing from investment of the public employee retirement fund.

The proposal to dip into the retirement fund's "extraordinary gains" obviously alarmed someone who wanted to protect that slush fund for other uses and a motion was made to send SB1070 to the 14th order for amendments (more about this later).

Gary Schroeder (Chairman of the Senate Education Committee) made motions for three amendments including one that, in effect, uses the "extraordinary gains" to calculate the amount of money to be transferred to the School Facility Support Fund but requires it to be taken "from the existing state appropriation for public schools."

Of course this appropriation can be expanded by the State Legislature as needed to cover the cost and taxpayers will have to provide the money. Another amendment to SB1070 will authorize Charter Schools to receive money made available by this bill.

The original Charter Schools legislation (HB517), passed in 1998, said that Charter Schools, "... shall not charge tuition, levy taxes or issue bonds, ..."

SB1070 authorizes the state to collect taxes for them and fund all Charter School projects authorized in this bill for public schools. It will be interesting to watch the coming proliferation of Charter Schools.

New Section 33-908 requires that, "These moneys shall be used by the district first to address any existing health or safety issues, and thereafter may be used for any purpose consistent with the provisions of section 33-1102" (Quoted above in the comments about 33-905 subsection 5). This will also now be true for Charter Schools.

The "Statement of Purpose"for SB1070 provides further information about use of these state funds. In part it says: "School personnel are often expressing concern about the lack of funding to repair roofs, light parking lots, replace worn-out furniture, purchase computers, and fix assorted problems in their schools. This legislation will remedy these situations."

In the past these expenses were met by funds in the school maintenance and operation budget which comes from local property taxes. With this legislation, local taxpayers have lost practically all control over public school funding. If you can't control it you don't own it even though you pay for it. Therefore SB1070 takes another big bite out of our freedom-and we keep voting for it.

The "14th Order"

Earlier in the article we saw how this bill was sent to the 14th Order for amendments. Several "Orders" are used by the legislature for processing legislation. The manual containing the Rules of the Senate contains some very interesting suggestions about motions for using these "Orders."

For example the suggested motion for using the 14th Order reads as follows: "Mr. President: I ask unanimous consent that all bills on First Reading be read by number, author, and title only and the Journal show they have been read at length."

In other words, legislators are encouraged to move that the Journal misrepresent what actually happened-it will show that the bills have been read at length, when in fact they have not.

In the section titled "Suspension Of Rules" we find the following recommended motion: "Mr. President: I move that all rules of the Senate interfering with the immediate passage of Senate (or House) Bill (or Joint Resolution) No. -- -- -- -- -- -- be suspended; that the portion of Section 15, Article 3, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho, requiring all bills to be read on three several days, be dispensed with, this being a case of urgency, and the Senate (or House) Bill ( or Joint Resolution) No. -- -- -- -- -- be read the first time by title, the second time by title, and the third time at length, section by section, and be put upon its final passage."

Thus legislators are encouraged to disregard the Idaho Constitution and pass bills with only a cursory consideration. It's noteworthy that a large percentage of bills submitted for legislative consideration declare an emergency to exist, as justification for quick passage, when in actuality no emergency exists.

This tendency to misrepresent facts and deceive people, does not engender respect for the legislative process or the legislators who indulge in it. We must return to a system of honesty and limited government if we expect to survive as a nation.