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Idaho lawmaker tries to ban state agencies from supporting non-government sponsored events

Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, is hoping to stop state government agencies from supporting any nongovernment events, unless given permission by the governor.
Credit: Brian Myrick
Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, debates in the Idaho House in 2022.

BOISE, Idaho — This article first appeared in the Idaho Press.

Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, is hoping to stop state government agencies from supporting any nongovernment events, unless given permission by the governor.

The House State Affairs Committee on Thursday morning unanimously voted to introduce the proposed legislation.

Monks told the Idaho Press that the recent Boise Pride Festival, in which many sponsors pulled out because of an outcry over a “Drag Kids” event, was what "sparked the start of the discussion" about this issue. One of the sponsors that pulled its support was the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. 

“I think that just kind of reminded me that maybe we should be looking at this again,” Monks said of Boise Pride in an interview. “There’s a hundred reasons why we look at things, that happened to have been probably the most recent example.” 

The proposal would only affect state agencies, therefore it wouldn’t affect the city of Boise’s support of any event, Monks said. In September, he wrote an open letter to the city’s mayor and city council condemning its support of the Pride Festival, writing, “I believe I would be derelict in my duties as a state representative if I didn’t do everything in my power to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to support the Boise Pride Festival.”

Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, asked if the governor should have the ability to make exceptions.

“I'm questioning why we would give the governor authority to authorize spending that's not authorized in statute,” Young said in the committee meeting.

Monks responded that in conversations with Gov. Brad Little’s staff, they noted that sometimes there are appropriate events for agencies to be involved in, such as the Department of Labor sponsoring a job fair.

Monks told the Idaho Press that he wanted an elected official in the executive branch to be making decisions about how taxpayer money is being used, and believed the governor could have discretion over determining which events might be appropriate uses.

“I’m not trying to tie the governor’s hands, I'm not trying to tell him or her what is appropriate. I think the governor’s plenty capable of making that determination on their own,” Monks said. “I just wanted some accountability.”

Monks said he thinks "anything that's outside the purview of the mission of that agency" would not be an acceptable use of funds. 

"I've even heard of donations and sponsorships at things that I like, maybe a rodeo," he told committee members. "I don't know why the government should be spending taxpayer money to support a rodeo." 

He said he doesn’t plan to bring forward legislation that would affect local government support of events.

“I try to play in my own sandbox,” Monks said.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.

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