Following a heated debate, the Idaho Senate voted 25-10 in favor of legislation that would forbid any preferences for women or minorities in state or local government hiring, contracting and public education, reported the Idaho Press on Thursday.
“People need to be hired by their merits and competencies,” said Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said. “You can’t have preferences or pick one group over another’s immutable traits.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, the only African American member of the Idaho legislature argued that the bill, known as HB 440a, “would actually accomplish the opposite of its intent.”
“When one is not even conscious of discriminatory behavior, it’s very difficult to see,” she said. “It’s not about numbers. It’s about how we treat each other. It’s about who has equal opportunity. … HB 440 is a step back into the Jim Crow era.”
The bill will now return to the House for another vote after the Senate added an amendment specifying that the bill’s requirements wouldn’t apply “in cases where they’d cause the state a loss of federal funds.”