Posted on April 3, 2020

Idaho Governor Signs Restrictions on Affirmative Action, Trans Athletes

Carson McCullough, Courthouse News Service, March 30, 2020

Idaho Governor Brad Little has approved a trio of bills that target affirmative action and transgender rights in the Gem State.

The first of the bills signed by the Republican governor is a statewide rollback of affirmative action protections. The new law bans state-run agencies, state contractors and public schools from using affirmative action in the employment process.

Supporters of the bill say it will help to ensure fairness and equality, while opponents have suggested that it could result in discriminatory practices toward minorities or other marginalized groups in the state.

The bill saw revisions prior to landing on the governor’s desk. After its initial passage in the Idaho House of Representatives, the Idaho Senate made changes to ensure that the bill would not result in any funding cuts from the federal government. Those against the bill, however, say the amendments essentially canceled out a provision barring discrimination on the basis of several factors including age, race or gender.

The Idaho House [passed] the bill along strict party lines, 56-14.

Idaho is not the first state in country to pass restrictions on affirmative action. Over a half a dozen states have in the last two decades passed similar bills, including Florida and New Hampshire.

While other states have attempted these efforts, they have been met with varying degrees of success and controversy. Earlier this month lawmakers in California – which banned affirmative action for state agencies roughly two decades ago – announced an effort to repeal the ban by putting the question before voters in November.