To the Edge and Back – Idaho’s Journey Through Tyranny
by Representative Heather Scott
Many citizens have been asking, when do governmental actions cross over into tyrannical behavior? My goal throughout this newsletter is to let you, the citizen, be the judge.
Actions unheard of as recently as last January now seem to be the norm. What we have increasingly seen over the last few months in many areas has been at best, irresponsible government. Take for example last week when a mother in a small North Idaho town was issued a misdemeanor citation for violating the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare director’s (IDHW) “stay-at-home order to self-isolate” and having a yard sale at her own home. Or another mother being arrested by Meridian police for playing in a public park with her children because people were not allowed on the public playground due to the COVID-19 quarantine orders from Gov. Brad Little. There are many other outrageous examples of government officials, across our state and country, seemingly consumed with power, who are out of touch with reality, and acting tyrannically.
Many Idahoans want to understand how this overnight lock-down occurred and believe strongly, as I do, that it is time to move swiftly forward with plans to end it. By now we all know the problems COVID-19 has brought us and are looking for solutions. To form a good plan, we should understand how we got here and get the facts straight, and never forget who is responsible.
On March 13, 2020, Idaho Governor Brad Little, reacting to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of a flu pandemic, declared a state of emergency. On that date, Idaho had 65 confirmed cases statewide and no deaths. (LINK)
Governor Little relied upon Idaho Code § 46-1008 as his authority and implemented the plans and procedures of the State Emergency Operations Plan due to the occurrence and imminent threat to public health and safety arising from the effects of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He declared that the area threatened by the emergency and subject to this proclamation was the entire state of Idaho.
Over the next week the following actions were taken by Governor Little:
- March 18: He unilaterally suspended Idaho Code § 74-203(5) on open meeting laws.
- March 23: He amended the proclamation to waive 125 administrative rules for the duration of the emergency.
- March 23: He unilaterally declared that tax filings and application deadlines were suspended for 60 days.
On March 25 Governor Little declared a state of EXTREME EMERGENCY and cited a new section of Idaho code, § 46-601: Title 46 MILITIA AND MILITARY AFFAIRS, Chapter 6 MARTIAL LAW AND ACTIVE DUTY. (LINK)
Many are now seriously concerned that Governor Little’s use of the Martial Law portion of Idaho Code to justify his actions on March 25 amounted to an abuse of power, as Idaho only had a total of 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by that day. Idaho Code § 46-601 is an old section of code, written in 1927, and gives the governor what amounts to dictatorial powers. I encourage you to read this short section of what a governor can and cannot do. This authority was given to the governor by the legislature at that time, and it has not been repealed or updated.
On the same day, March 25, he ordered the Director of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) to issue an order to citizens to self-isolate at their place of residence. This order was amended on April 15 with more restrictions. Quarantine is a method to isolate the sick, not to be confused with house arrest. IDHW does not have the authority to house arrest entire populations. The order included the following:
- Only leave for essential services or engage in essential activities.
- Exempting homeless from the order but urging them to find shelter and for government agencies to provide it.
- Directing all businesses and governmental agencies to cease non-essential operations at physical locations in the state.
- Prohibiting all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals.
- Ordering cessation of all non-essential travel.
After his March 25 proclamation, the Governor continued with the following actions:
- March 27: Issued an executive order to transfer funds to the disaster emergency account.
- March 27: Issued an executive order to reduce general fund spending authority.
- March 27: Unemployment Insurance changes made.
- April 1: Unilaterally altered Idaho Code to make major changes to the May 2020 primary election.
- April 1: Waived an additional 18 administrative rules.
- April 7: Established a process to evaluate and implement coronavirus funding (unilaterally selecting advisory committee members).
- April 15: The stay-at-home order was amended to include language that forced out-of-state travelers to quarantine for 14 days when they come into the state.
- April 22: Amended the emergency declaration stating that he “finds, proclaims and declares” that a state of “extreme emergency” still exists (1,800 cases confirmed).
- April 24: Waved additional regulations.
Here is a link to all the Governor’s proclamations, executive orders and actions taken since the COVID-19 emergency was declared. (LINK TO ALL COVID-19 PROCLAMATIONS)
In order to understand how the flu has impacted Idaho in the past, below are the number of annual flu deaths since 2016 as documented by IDHW (LINK TO DATA):
2016-2017- 72 deaths;
2017-2018 – 101 deaths;
2018-2019 – 58 deaths
2019-2020 – 56 deaths (from COVID-19 as of 4/26/20)
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 30 million people in the United States get the flu virus annually. Last year alone, 34,200 people died from the flu, and yearly deaths from the flu average between 30,000 and 60,000 over the past ten years.
It is now 40+ days after Governor Little’s initial proclamation and there has been growing concern about whether it was an appropriate reaction or an inappropriate overreaction. Some counties have zero recorded cases of the COVID-19. Lawsuits are starting to materialize, calling out violations of citizens constitutionally-protected rights, both state and federal. What is also of great concern is whether Idaho has experienced a real emergency or a recurring health problem that was used to subject the population to tyrannical behavior. What is factual is that at the time this emergency proclamation was issued, there were a total of 65 confirmed cases (not deaths) in the entire State of Idaho. It also should be noted that using Idaho Code § 46-1008 to declare an emergency limits the duration of the emergency proclamation to 30 days, after which it may be extended for an additional 30-day period. This would put a fixed end date for the emergency proclamation and associated restrictions at May 13, 2020.
The Idaho State Constitution and the Idaho Code do not restrict the Idaho State Legislature from convening in an Extraordinary Session (see §§ 67-404 and 67-404d) in order to stop this extreme overreach of executive power. Citizens in rapidly increasing numbers are demanding something be done by their legislators. Legislators are still discussing and debating this approach
If the last 40+ days of chaos have been enough for you, then below are suggested steps for citizens to take in order to regain control of Idaho.
As a citizen, know the facts, know your rights and use the correct language.
- Know the jurisdictions of government you live in and the authority of the elected officials in each who are representing you and spending your tax dollars. Examples of jurisdictions include Federal, State, (Controller, Legislators, Treasurer, Governor, Attorney General, Prosecuting Attorneys, etc.), County (Commissioners, Sheriff, Clerk, etc.), City (Mayor, Police Chief, etc), School, Fire and Highway Districts.
- Understand that our state and federal constitutions were written as directives from citizens to government for the purpose of directing government officials in their duties and to protect our unalienable rights. Unalienable rights are not transferable to another or capable of being taken away or denied by government. They come from God, not government.
- Understand that there is a hierarchy of law in our Republic. Highest to lowest is the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God (for the faithful), the United States Constitution, Federal laws (where authorized by the United States Constitution), the Idaho State Constitution, state laws (sometimes called code or statutes), and then administrative rules and regulations (where authorized by valid laws).
- Remember the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho Constitution are a delegation of political power from the citizens to the federal and state governments. Those constitutional delegations are the authority under which governments are permitted to act.
- Remember that the limitations on constitutionally delegated authority do not disappear during times of trouble, or emergency, or even “extreme” emergencies. Elected officials are constrained by and must work within their constitutional boundaries.
- Understand that constitutional oaths are taken by elected officials and obligate them to protect your unalienable rights. Neither the government nor our constitutions give citizens any rights. Government actors can’t pick and choose what parts of constitutions they will uphold, and cannot enforce one part, while ignoring another part, to trample rights and freedoms.
- All political power remains in the people. If you don’t exercise that power, which may mean stepping out of your comfort zone at times, you can expect government will always try to increase its control over you. Government is, by its very nature is liberty-consuming.
Identify tyrannical behavior of elected officials within your jurisdictions who are violating your rights:
- Are unconstitutional orders being enforced within your immediate jurisdictional boundaries by sheriffs, police chiefs, and prosecutors?
- If so, determine if they understand how they are violating your rights. They may not be tyrants, but rather need to be educated.
- If violations are occurring, get them on the record by videotaping or documenting their violations for proof.
- Ask each candidate you can vote for in the 2020 primary and general elections where they stand on these constitutional issues; and then vote accordingly.
Demand accountability from elected and un-elected government personnel who violate your rights.
- Review and pursue legal action where appropriate to draw attention to an injustice. If constitutional issues are raised, state and federal courts may both be potential options for shedding light on problematic government officials and polices. There are some drawbacks to legal pressure: costs, uncertain outcomes, a biased judiciary, and a slow-moving process.
- Be an educated voter. Don’t forget the power of your vote at the ballot box. Remember, this primary election will be by mail in absentee ballot only, per the governor’s dubious proclamation.
- Letters, phone calls, personal meetings, and emails to your elected officials help educate them. Remember, contacting the ones you can vote for and who represent you is the most effective approach.
- Help and support elected officials or candidates who understand the U.S. Constitution and Idaho State Constitution and who will respect and protect your rights. Whether it is a library district trustee, school board member or attorney general candidate, every elected official matters. Encourage good people who understand public service and constitutional governance to consider running for office.
- Standing up to and exercising your rights, and acts of civil disobedience (consider the cost).
- Right now, going to the park with your child to play could bring you a misdemeanor citation and a $500 fine, but could this be worth the cost to bring awareness to the injustice? You need to decide. If fifty moms show up at the park to play with their children, can that make a statement and draw attention to an issue?
- Rallies and protests raise awareness, get the attention of public officials, and are constitutionally protected. They are proving effective in some municipalities.
- saw that Gov Little unveiled his plan for re-opening. I’m not a fan of his plan. In it he says that ‘bars and nightclubs can’t open up until mid to late June. Will there even be ‘bars and nightclubs’ that will have the money to open up by then? I have made my living by working in restaurants/pubs/bars my whole adult life… I’m 42 years old. I’m also a gigging musician and make a great deal of my income from shows. There are countless people in this State and so many in my area that share my story. I haven’t seen a penny from unemployment or received my stimulus check.nding up, speaking up and showing up is hard, but a small price to pay to preserve our freedoms.Educate others on what is happening and share information publicly:
- Social Media and old-school public shaming: The governor has asked citizens to put peer pressure on others to enforce his edict. How about putting people pressure on your elected servants, including the governor, to shame their reckless abuse of power? Social media posts and tweets are rapidly enhancing or replacing the “Letters to the Editor” because of their immediate publication, which is effective in exposing the leftist bias of most media outlets these days that often protects bad government actors.
- Traditional letters to the editor, posting signs and bulletins with your message, and contacting and educating your neighbors face-to-face also works to get a message out.
Use the system to fight the system:
- There are processes to recall bad actors in government. For state elected officials, details can be found at the Secretary of State’s office and website.
- Your Idaho House members can impeach the governor if they can be persuaded by their constituents to do so. It is politically dangerous to take on the governor, so they must fear the people more than the executive branch. Legislators must be in session to impeach a governor.
- Complaints to the executive branch, supervisors and agency directors can be filed when bureaucrats overstep their boundaries, but diligent pursuit by citizens must be maintained.
- Contact your state legislators and urge them to restrict the executive branch’s powers when they return back to session. Ask them to set up a committee to investigate actions and look into how the federal money is being spent and distributed.
- You can also contact them now and insist that they convene an Extraordinary Session to address abuses of executive power. Contact legislative leadership and your legislators to persuade them to take action on your behalf. (Link to SENATE leadership; Link to HOUSE leadership.)
Start fixing the system.
If we, as Idaho citizens, would stop being manipulated by the media and political operatives, and stop fighting with each other on the issues, we could start to work to fix the broken, dysfunctional system. While we are being distracted, huge un-elected bureaucracies from other areas and regions are making blanket decisions and rules that are not in our local interest but which we end up having to follow locally through taxation and regulation. We may disagree on some social issues or policies, but I hope we can all agree on the importance of liberty, freedom, and rights.
These past few months have given us the feel of entering a new and ominous phase in the citizen-government relationship. There is new, and unprecedented, awareness of our rights and freedoms protected by our republican form or government and outlined in our federal and state constitutions. These rights are sworn to be defended by those elected to protect and serve the citizenry. It’s our job to be the boss and to manage those we elect. Never give up.
Will you participate or abdicate? Your future absolutely depends on it.
Below are a few comments from constituents I’ve received lately. Remember, you are not alone:
- I do not believe that any governor had the authority to close his/her state. It is evident that he has violated the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and no state law can make what is unconstitutional legal. If the Governor can act without the Legislature then he becomes in fact a dictator. (Remember that we are a Republic.) Beyond that, there is considerable evidence that this year’s flu is little different than any other flu.
- I’m down in Blaine out East Fork, South Blaine [anti-Ketchum] is steaming mad at our totalitarian governor and we want to recall him. Can you help me with the process?
- Brad Little-You built this; you own this!
- Please help my husband’s business. We live in Hayden Idaho and as you know we only have 59 cases and ZERO deaths. If the phases stay the same then we will have to close our doors for ever. We put in the application first thing on the stimulus and the funds were it was already gone. We do not have faith we will even see the second round of funding. He pays in a lot of sales tax, licensing fees, and state taxes from this company and to be closed to the end June it will end a great company. We are responsible business owners and can keep everyone safe with a plan we are putting into place. Please help us, if the casinos can open then we can too.
- I saw that Gov Little unveiled his plan for re-opening. I’m not a fan of his plan. In it he says that ‘bars and nightclubs can’t open up until mid to late June. Will there even be ‘bars and nightclubs’ that will have the money to open up by then? I have made my living by working in restaurants/pubs/bars my whole adult life… I’m 42 years old. I’m also a gigging musician and make a great deal of my income from shows. There are countless people in this State and so many in my area that share my story. I haven’t seen a penny from unemployment or received my stimulus check.
- Governor Little has announced today that he is going to start phase 1 of opening our state. Among other things, he has said that this will allow the opening of childcare centers in Idaho. This shows ignorance on the part of the governor because childcare centers are already open. The governor never had the right to close private businesses in the first place. The order was in violation of our state constitution and the US constitution as well. We cannot go one more day with this extreme government overreach!
- It is your duty as a member of the Idaho state Legislature to impeach Governor Brad Little for violating the Constitution of the State of Idaho. Our constitution ensures our freedom. Governor Little has very clearly violated that and turned us into a totalitarian state. All of you and the governor have sworn to uphold our constitution. Since the governor has violated it, it is now your duty to impeach him. The sooner the better. Our state is suffering from this lock down. It needs to stop now.
- I know you are aware of the issues we are having with unemployment checks getting to people in dire need. I spoke with our local Post Falls, Idaho office this morning (after calling 10+ times per day for 3 weeks to the Boise office, only to get a busy signal) to help out a fellow colleague that has “payment status – pending” for over a month now. He has not worked since the beginning of April due to your office’s mandated shut down due to COVID – 19 and he has yet to receive a single check. He is one of 5 in our company facing the same issue. When I spoke to the Post Falls office, I was told that there are 90,000 claims and 60,000 of those claims are pending with some kind of issue. 60,000 out of 90,000 workers have yet to receive a single dime. This is a massive failure for the state of Idaho. How can we mandate that our citizens can’t work and be a month behind on getting those people their checks??? The federal Government already got the stimulus checks out to millions of Americans. How can Idaho be so incompetent in getting the money out to their people?
- I do not believe this is what the Trump Administration or Congress had in mind when they rolled this out. I expect more out of Idaho, as I know you do. Please do something about this. Your citizens are scared and the fear is valid. They can’t work or they are committing a crime, but the state isn’t getting their money to them.
- I am pleading with you to use whatever power you have to see that none of this money goes to any of the various State agencies. They have not been impacted by the shutdown, only by being required to stay at home while they continue to receive their salaries, wages and benefits, while we have been required to shut down businesses, restaurants and other facilities to comply with this unlawful and unconstitutional order.
- I am a victim of duplicity of a state government regulatory agency, and I truly despise that they should receive financial enhancement of our federal dollars not yet paid by the tax payer. This whole system is upside down and I fear for my children and grandchildren and what they may be required to go through before this is over.
- I applaud your stance against the house arrest imposed by Governor Little. I have questions about this whole thing. The first being, what empirical evidence is being used to base this decision off of? The numbers put out by the State do not warrant this type of response. 69% mortality rate 34.9% recovered 9% hospitalization3.1% in the ICU and a 9.5% positive test result. The interesting number is the 936, 55.9%, unaccounted for cases. Are they mild or asymptomatic? Either way, the number don’t add up to this response. Another question is why were the first things to be closed the very things that help prevent illness? Seems to me like it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, they close the things that people use to stay healthy, then use the fact they got sick as a justification. The last question I have is, if this thing is as bad as we have been lead to believe, why are hospital workers, first responders, and patients allowed to leave the hospital? Wouldn’t they pose a bigger threat to the people outside than, literally, anybody else?