Republican delegates from across the state crammed into a classroom on Idaho State University’s campus in Idaho Falls to hammer out the party’s platform, or list of ideals in which party members and candidates believe.  Debate centered around recent federal health care reforms, the 17th Amendment, and government transparency.  One delegate even successfully pitched an idea that requires that party candidates sign a pledge to follow the party’s platform or face retribution.

One of the most controversial pieces of the platform discussed by delegates was a statement calling for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which gives citizens the right to vote for their U.S. senators.  It is the second time this issue has popped up on Idaho’s political radar in 2010.  During the Republican congressional primary race, Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador, who eventually went on to win the GOP nod, both said at one point that they were in favor of repealing the amendment.  Yvonne Perez, a delegate and wife of Ralph Perez, Republican candidate for the Idaho House of Representatives, proposed the language calling for repeal, saying that if the Idaho Legislature is allowed to pick the state’s U.S. senators, it would lead to greater accountability in the federal government.

Opposition came, interestingly enough, from someone who would be able to pick the senators if the amendment were to be repealed: state Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton.  Siddoway seemed flabbergasted that delegates in the room wanted to take election of senators away from the voting public.  “We’re taking the voter out of the equation … and you want that?” asked Siddoway, whose question was answered by a very audible “Yes!” from delegates.  One state senator, Shirley McKague, a Republican from Meridian, said repeal is the right way to go. “I totally agree with repealing the 17thAmendment,” said McKague. “We are a republic, and the Legislature is the voice of the people of the state, and, therefore, the senator should listen to the state of Idaho’s position and that’s why our Founding Fathers put it that way.”

Republicans also voted to create language supporting what amounts to  a loyalty oath for GOP candidates.  Dan Loughrey, at the request of Rod Beck, pitched the idea to the platform committee.  Loughrey’s language, which will likely be included in the final platform, requires all Republican candidates, both state and federal, to sign a statement of disclosure affirming that if elected, they would serve according to the platform and resolutions of the party.  The party would then publish the list of those who signed the pledge – and who didn’t – and release that approximately 40 days prior to elections.

Several pieces of the platform added Friday centered around government transparency.  Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, proposed language, upon the encouragement of Wayne Hoffman, head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, to urge GOP members and candidates to stand for government transparency.  Pearce’s plank called for all governments, including cities, states, and school districts, to post all financial transaction on the Internet for viewing and analyzing by the general public.  Hoffman said that Idaho is falling behind in transparency efforts.  “Other state governments are adopting platforms so you can see how government dollars are being spent,” said Hoffman.  “The point is to hold government accountable for how they are spending our money. It can be done and it is being done in other states.”  Dennis Englehart, a delegate from Bonner County, concurred with Hoffman and Pearce and said the idea is forward thinking.  “I think this is the direction we want to take,” said Englehart.

Tyler Hurst, a delegate from Ada County, began the meeting calling on fellow GOP members to instill language into the platform disapproving of the federal health care reforms, which, when fully enacted, will require citizens of the United States to purchase health insurance.  Hurst’s move was in staunch opposition to the reforms and in support of the Idaho Health Freedom Act, which Idaho lawmakers passed in early 2010 and is intended to shield Idahoans from the mandate to buy in insurance.  The act also authorized the state’s attorney general to sue the federal government over the mandate.  “We do believe that Idaho citizens should not and/or shall not be taxed for federally-mandated health care,” said Hurst.  Only moments later and with almost no debate, delegates concurred with Hurst’s statement and approved the language for the platform with a lone dissenting vote.

Changes adopted by the platform committee are not final.  The party as a whole will approve

(For full disclosure: Tyler Hurst is a brother of the author of this article.  Also, is a product of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.)

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About The Author

Dustin Hurst serves as the Communication Director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He graduated from Boise State in 2009. His work has been featured by Fox News, Townhall, Public Sector Inc., the Daily Caller, Reason, Human Events, the Spokesman Review and more. He and his wonderful wife Julia have two cute kids. The family resides in Middleton.


  1. The vote belongs with the people. Isn’t that what a democracy is anyways? I used to claim myself a swing voter but with there plans to destroy the 17th Amendment it looks like the GOP gave me a reason to be strictly against them.

  2. @Nathan Hobbs
    Sorry to tell you but we are a Republic due to the fact that democracy is nothing more than mob rule. If you would like to see democracy in action take a look at the history of New Jersey legislative actions, (they are flat broke and have the highest taxes in the nation). By taking the people out of the equation you allow a state to function under the rule of law. Basically what I’m trying to get at is that if you let the people rule completely you are allowing the people that have nothing in the game to receive all the benefits. I could go on and on listing all the Gov’t programs available in NJ for the “poor” but whats the point you and your kind will fight anything that tries to protect all of us from a total collapse of the greatest country on earth. “Ben Franklin, when the people figure out they can vote themselves money it will be the end of the Republic.” I am from NJ and i can tell you I wish i lived in Idaho

  3. […] is a list of ideals for which party members and candidates usually stand.  The platform committee approved several changes to the document, including language to require all Republican candidates for public office – local, state, […]

  4. The People’s interests are represented by the House of Representatives, hence the name. The Senate was intended to be the voice of the States. That is why senators were appointed by the State legislatures. It was intended that the voice of the people would be balanced by the wishes of the States so that each must agree before subjecting the People and the States to laws imposed on them by the Federal government. The people were intended to have a say through their individual representatives, that is why they are apportioned according to the number of citizens. The senators were to speak for the States so that anything passed and signed into law would require the approval of both the People and the States. It was meant to be a balance of power so that the people were not subject by unjust laws imposed by the States and the States would not be subject to laws written by the loudest majority. Many of the programs and mandates that are required by the Federal government to by paid for by the States would not exist if this balance of power had not been removed by the 17th Amendment.

  5. What’s the difference?

    Idaho does not properly enforce the Constitution anyway, it’s the least effective of arguments and often treated with disdain against releasing criminal activity for Constitutional violations; I know, I’m a lawyer and having practiced in both Alaska and Idaho I know it would make a big difference, just look at the total ineptitude this last term for all Idaho Lawmakers and Governor Ought’ter.

    So, why would you want those clowns with more Power?


  6. Way to go Idaho, may our great Republic return to its glory. A senatorial candidate would be required to convince a group of elected policy makers who can EACH have one-on-one time with him/her, rather than just paying marketers to run expensive misleading TV ads in a fake attempt to educate the individual voters, few of whom ever personally meet let alone speak at length with the candidate. Repeal the 17th!

  7. I hate to sound like Glen Beck here but this smacks of Nazi Germany. forcing people to go along with party lines in order to control the vote? I cant believe its even being considered.

  8. Brother Tyler said “We do believe that Idaho citizens should not and/or shall not be taxed for federally-mandated health care.” (Does he really talk that way? “Should not and/or shall not”?)

    I assume the topic was the health care insurance reform passed by this current Congress and signed into law by Obama? But is he not aware that all citizens of the U.S. have been paying taxes (and I’m guess will continue to do so) for Medicare? Which is federally mandated health care insurance.

    I haven’t heard anyone talk about mandated health care, per se. (As in, “Time to go to the Doctor, Mr. Hurst. I hope there won’t be another tantrum this time!”)

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