I spent time at the State Senate today wondering if we'd see transitional housing for ex-inmates start the process of dying in Idaho...the Senate has it on the calendar for Tuesday, saying there is no fiscal impact...though our numbers show that this bill may well cost Idaho taxpayers in the range of $30+ millions of dollars, given certain things happening.
The bill allows many problematic areas, but two gross errors to enter its public policy on ex-inmates/ex-addicts:
- It creates an illusionary/artificial division between ex-addicts and ex-inmates and tells the ex-inmates they may well be zoned out of a city's SFD neighborhood. (reminding us of "Red-lining" supposed-undesirables out of neighborhoods from the 1950's and 60's). This is Federally offensive and patently illegal. The Senate has a chance to refer it back to committee and should do so.
- It allows the supposed threat of harm to act as a catalyst for neighbors to trigger city action. One person's bias against another person's legal right to occupy a home, may be the only thing needed to allow city-supported tension to grow in an otherwise pleasant neighborhood. That's why these ex-addicts have federal protection.
HB 465 appears to no longer be a Freshman fluke - the situation since its introduction fails the test of veracity simply because "the new guy didn't know protocol"...which I thought.
I was wrong.
This is an egregious act against a federally protected group of medically ill addicted individuals who need our state's support, not its Legislature's condemnation.
Do these legislators want to help cure the addiction problem in Idaho? Only if they are strong can they do so. It's lazy for Legislators to say this is a conservative measure so therefore they'll vote for it.
Few in the current Legislature hold the conservative credentials I hold, nor the longevity of having held them. Yet, this is REALLY not a conservative vs liberal issue. It is an issue of us having the strength to communicate and choose wisely as a community...as a state.
The fact that it was presented with an incorrect fiscal impact should stall the bill ASAP and send it back ASAP (til next year). The fact that the author(s) have not brought all the parties together to have any desired communication is a slap in the face to all who care about these ex-addicts.