At Capi­tol, many new faces and three key de­vel­op­ments

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CYN­THIA SEWELL [email protected]­hostates­

This year’s po­lit­i­cal fore­cast is an easy one: 2019 will be a year of marked change at the Idaho Capi­tol.

When the new 65th Idaho Leg­is­la­ture of­fi­cially con­venes Mon­day, it will be the first time in 12 years there will be a new “gentleman on the sec­ond floor” — which, as a mat­ter of par­lia­men­tary cour­tesy, is how law­mak­ers re­fer to the gov­er­nor while on the Se­nate and House floors.

Any re­turn­ing law­maker who has served six or fewer terms, which is about 85 per­cent of Idaho leg­is­la­tors, has only known work­ing with Gov. Butch Ot­ter and his ad­min­is­tra­tion at the helm.

And that new gentleman on the sec­ond floor — Gov. Brad Lit­tle, who has been at Ot­ter’s side the first Mon­day of ev­ery Jan­uary when Ot­ter gives his an­nual State of the State ad­dress — will step up to the lectern at 1 p.m. Mon­day to give his in­au­gu­ral State of the State ad­dress. Lit­tle, sur­rounded by fam­ily and friends, took the oath of of­fice Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“In a fast-mov­ing world, a ro­bust ed­u­ca­tion is im­per­a­tive to com­pete,” Lit­tle said at the in­au­gu­ra­tion. “We must keep cul­ti­vat­ing the skills of our cit­i­zens as we progress from a his­tor­i­cally agrar­ian so­ci­ety to a mod­ern in­for­ma­tion-driven econ­omy.”

Along with a new gov­er­nor, the Capi­tol will house its first new trea­surer in 20 years, its first new lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 10 years and 24 new law­mak- ers. Ad­di­tion­ally, al­most a dozen state agen­cies will have new peo­ple sit­ting in the direc­tor’s seat.


Here’s where you will see some of those new faces — or fa­mil­iar faces in new places:

Statewide of­fices: In ad­di­tion to the gov­er­nor, two other statewide of­fice­hold­ers are new: Lt. Gov. Jan­ice Mcgeachin and Trea­surer Julie Ellsworth. Mcgeachin is Idaho’s first fe­male lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, and, for the first time, three of the seven statewide of­fices are held by women. Mcgeachin’s du­ties in­clude pre­sid­ing over the Idaho Se­nate, a job Lit­tle has held since 2009.

Leg­is­la­ture: Nearly one-quar­ter of the 105mem­ber Leg­is­la­ture is new. The fresh­man group has 15 Republicans and six Democrats in the House and two Republicans and one Demo­crat in the Se­nate. Of the 24 new mem­bers, 17 are men and seven are women.

The 35-mem­ber Se­nate com­prises 28 Republicans and seven Democrats.

The 70-mem­ber House com­prises 56 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Republicans hold 80 per­cent of the 105 seats in both cham­bers. Men hold 70 per­cent of the seats.

JFAC: One of the Leg­is­la­ture’s most pow­er­ful com­mit­tees — the bud­get­set­ting Joint Fi­nanceap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee — has been co-chaired by Rep. Max­ine Bell, Rjerome, and Sen. Shawn Keough, R-sand­point. Bell joined the com­mit­tee in 1991, and has been its co-chair­woman since 2001. Keogh joined the com­mit­tee in 2001 and has been its co-chair­woman since 2016. Both re­tired this year and with them goes a com­bined four decades of JFAC knowl­edge. The new co-chair­men are Repub­li­can Sen. Steve Bair, of Black­foot, who has been on JFAC since 2015, and Repub­li­can Rep. Rick Young­blood, of Nampa, who has been on JFAC since 2013. Lewis­ton Sen. Dan John­son and Idaho Falls Rep. Wendy Hor­man, both Republicans, are new vice-chairs.

Agency heads: Lit­tle has al­ready made changes at sev­eral state agen­cies. De­part­ments of Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Com­merce, Corrections, Fi­nan­cial Man­age­ment, Health and Wel­fare, Ju­ve­nile Corrections, La­bor, and Oc­cu­pa­tional Li­censes all have new direc­tors.

Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice: Lit­tle has as­sem­bled a new staff in­clud­ing Zach Hauge, chief of staff; Sam Ea­ton, direc­tor of pol­icy and coun­sel; Bobbi-jo Meule­man, direc­tor of in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal af­fairs; Emily Cal­li­han, direc­tor or com­mu­ni­ca­tions; and Marissa Mor­ri­son, press sec­re­tary. One fa­mil­iar face will still be in the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice: Clau­dia Sim­plot Nally. She has served un­der Govs. Phil Batt, Dirk Kempthorne, Jim Risch and Butch Ot­ter. Lit­tle on Fri­day an­nounced Brian Won­der­lich, who has served as a Hol­land & Hart law part­ner and former deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral, will serve as gen­eral coun­sel for the of­fice of the gov­er­nor.


In ad­di­tion to the in­flux of new elected of­fi­cials and agency heads, three new de­vel­op­ments war­rant at­ten­tion this ses­sion.

Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion: The ini­tia­tive passed by Idaho vot­ers in Novem­ber is al­ready law. But be­fore Idaho res­i­dents can par­take, it must sur­vive pend­ing le­gal chal­lenges, and get the gov­er­nor’s and Leg­isla­tive ac­tion on bud­get items, in­clud­ing au­tho­riz­ing the ex­pen­di­ture of fed­eral Med­i­caid dol­lars and fund­ing the state’s match­ing share.

At an As­so­ci­ated Press leg­isla­tive pre­view event Thurs­day, Lit­tle said cer­tain con­di­tions, such re­quir­ing peo­ple to ac­tively seek em­ploy­ment or to al­ready have a job, could be part of the dis­cus­sion for Idaho law­mak­ers as they ad­dress the is­sue in the 2019 ses­sion. On Fri­day, Boise State Pub­lic Ra­dio re­ported that the chair­man of the Idaho Se­nate Health and Wel­fare Com­mit­tee, Fred Wood, does not sup­port adding work re­quire­ments un­der the ex­pan­sion. That’s im­por­tant, be­cause Wood could choose whether or not to hold a com­mit­tee hear­ing for a Mei­d­caid ex­pan­sion bill that in­cludes those re­quire­ments.

Crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form: Idaho has been slowly tack­ling crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form. Last month, Congress passed a crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form bill. While the new fed­eral law does not af­fect state sen­tenc­ing rules or inmates in county jails or state pris­ons, it could pro­vide an im­pe­tus for Idaho to push for­ward with more re­forms.

In­dus­trial hemp: Idaho is one of about 10 states where grow­ing hemp for in­dus­trial pur­poses is il­le­gal. That could change with the new fed­eral Farm Bill ap­proved by Congress last month, which le­gal­ized hemp. Hemp is used for such prod­ucts as pa­per, tex­tiles, build­ing and au­to­mo­tive ma­te­ri­als and bio-plas­tics.

Rep. Caro­line Nils­son Troy, R-gene­see, al­ready has drafted leg­is­la­tion to le­gal­ize hemp cul­ti­va­tion in Idaho, The Spokesman-re­view re­ported Dec. 15. But on Thurs­day, Repub­li­can lead­er­ship, in­clud­ing Lit­tle, House Speaker Scott Bedke and Sen­tate Pro-tem Brent Hill, said they have con­cerns that le­gal­iz­ing hemp could al­low for smug­gling of mar­i­juana into the Gem State.


Prior to the start of a new Leg­is­la­ture, mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity and mi­nor­ity par­ties selected lead­ers within their re­spec­tive cham­bers.

House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship is the only one with changes af­ter two lead­er­ship mem­bers made un­suc­cess­ful bids to move up.

House Repub­li­can cau­cus mem­bers voted to re­tain Rep. Scott Bedke, of Oak­ley, as House speaker, and Rep. Mike Moyle, of Star, as House ma­jor­ity leader. As­sis­tant Ma­jor­ity Leader Brent Crane and Ma­jor­ity Cau­cus John Van­der Woude, both of Nampa, were un­suc­cess­ful in chal­leng­ing Bedke and Moyle, re­spec­tively.

To fill the po­si­tions va­cated by Crane and Van­der Woude, the GOP cau­cus mem­bers selected Nampa Rep. Ja­son Monks to serve as as­sis­tant

House ma­jor­ity leader and Ham­mett Rep.

Me­gan Blanksma to serve as ma­jor­ity cau­cus chair­woman.

House Demo­cratic cau­cus mem­bers re­tained cur­rent lead­er­ship: Mat Er­peld­ing, of Boise, is mi­nor­ity leader; Ilana Rubel, of Boise, is as­sis­tant mi­nor­ity leader; and Elaine Smith, of Idaho Falls, is mi­nor­ity cau­cus chair­woman.

In the Se­nate, Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic lead­er­ship also is un­changed. The Se­nate Repub­li­can lead­ers are Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Brent Hill, Ma­jor­ity Leader Chuck Win­der, As­sis­tant Ma­jor­ity Leader Steve Vick and Cau­cus Chair­man Kelly An­thon. The Democrats lead­er­ship in­clude Mi­nor­ity Leader Michelle Sten­nett and Mi­nor­ity Cau­cus Chair­woman Maryanne Jor­dan.

The Se­nate has 10 com­mit­tees and the House has 14 com­mit­tees. Republicans hold all com­mit­tee chair­man and vice-chair­man po­si­tions.

In the Se­nate, seven of 10 com­mit­tees have new chair­men.

Key chair­man changes are:

State Af­fairs: Patti Anne Lodge, of Hus­ton, leaves her Ju­di­ciary and Rules chair­wom­an­ship to helm this in­flu­en­tial com­mit­tee.

Health and Wel­fare:

Martin re­places Twin Falls’ Lee Hei­der, who now serves as chair­man for Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment.

Ju­di­ciary and Rules:

Nampa at­tor­ney Todd Lakey gets his first com­mit­tee chair­man as­sign­ment, suc­ceed­ing Lodge.

Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Tax­a­tion: Jim Rice, of Cald­well, suc­ceeds Dan John­son, who now cochairs JFAC.

There were changes aplenty in House com­mit­tees, too, with eight of the 14 get­ting new chair­men. Those are: State Af­fairs, Steve Har­ris, Merid­ian; Ed­u­ca­tion, Lance Clow, Twin Falls; Ju­di­ciary, Rules and Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Tom Day­ley, Boise; En­ergy, En­vi­ron­ment and Tech­nol­ogy, John Van­der Woude, Nampa; Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Ron Men­dive, Coeur D’alene; Busi­ness, Sage Dixon, Pon­deray; and Com­merce, James Holtz­claw, Merid­ian.

Law­mak­ers from Ada and Canyon coun­ties hold 11 of the 27 House com­mit­tee chair­man and vice-chair­man seats. In the Se­nate, they hold seven of 20 com­mit­tee chair and vice-chair­man seats.

Cyn­thia Sewell: 208-377-6428, Cyn­thia Sewell

DARIN OSWALD [email protected]­hostates­

Gov. Brad Lit­tle takes the oath of of­fice at his in­au­gu­ra­tion on the steps of the Idaho State­house on Fri­day. Idaho has a new gov­er­nor for the first time in 12 years, its first new trea­surer in 20 years, its first new lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 10 years and 24 new law­mak­ers.

KATHER­INE JONES [email protected]­hostates­

The name on the door is changed, and it’s al­most of­fi­cial now. Gov. Brad Lit­tle will give his first State of the State ad­dress on Mon­day.

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