You can tell it's an election year.
In the Idaho Legislature, representatives and senators are doing as little as possible to rock the boat just before the May primary election (the only election that counts in Idaho at present).
So even the nut bills are being held to a minimum and too many aren't slipping out of committee to face a roll-call vote on the floor. The "add the words" people aren't even being given a hearing, which is all they really want right now, because that would force the legislature to recognize the issue and right now most of them would just as soon let the existing discrimination stand.
Suddenly, the legislature is even finding a few dollars for education, although the attached strings limit the flexibility of local school boards to use the money they way they feel would be best in their specific, local situations.
Unlike off-year legislatures, the election-year legislatures try and make an appearance of wise, responsible deliberations (in the hopes you'll forget what they did last year). But no serious boat rocking.
At the federal level, both parties are jockeying to set the agenda for the fall elections. That means proposing or opposing legislation that everyone back there knows isn't going to see a genuine vote to approve or deny until after the elections. It's all bluster to generate the sound bites needed for their re-election campaigns.
The president's budget is a good example. It doesn't even attempt to present a balanced budget at any time during the next ten years, let alone the next two, and the Republican alternative is so vague as to be virtually meaningless -- filled with all the nice little hot button keywords but lacking any of the specifics anyone could actually bite into.
All the key measures that have to be addressed, such as entitlement programs, are being used as pawns to position each side for the elections, to try and push the other guy into an untenable position, but nobody is actually going to touch them until their seats are secure again.
So, we'll get pablum from the legislature and something even less palatable from Congress.
The only thing of substance anyone is actually going to accomplish is getting their re-election campaigns put together. While everything needed stalls.
-- Kelly Everitt