As leg­is­la­tors gear up, some have new roles

The Idaho Statesman - - Local - BY CYN­THIA SEWELL [email protected]­hostates­

The in­com­ing 65th Idaho Leg­is­la­ture gath­ered at the Capi­tol in Boise this week to take care of some chores be­fore it of­fi­cially con­venes on Mon­day, Jan. 7.

Among its tasks: con­duct new law­maker train­ing, se­lect Se­nate and House lead­er­ship, and as­sign com­mit­tee chairs and mem­bers.

One un­de­cided leg­isla­tive race, Boise’s District 15 Se­nate seat, was de­cided via re­count just in time for the win­ner to par­take the or­ga­ni­za­tional meet­ings.

Fol­low­ing the ini­tial vote tally, in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Sen. Fred Martin led his Demo­cratic chal­lenger, Jim Brat­nober, by just six votes. Brat­nober re­quested a re­count. Ada County Elec­tions com­pleted the re­count Wed­nes­day, and its re­sults showed Martin re­ceived 11 more votes than Brat­nober.

With the District 15 race now de­cided, the 35mem­ber 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.

Ad­di­tion­ally, nearly one-quar­ter of the Leg­is­la­ture will be 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 new law­mak­ers com­pleted a three-day train­ing ses­sion ear­lier in the week.


Prior to the start of a new Leg­is­la­ture, mem­bers of the ma­jor­ity and mi­nor­ity par­ties se­lect 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 Wed­nes­day night 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 chair.

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 Chair Kelly An­thon. The Democrats fea­ture Mi­nor­ity Leader Michelle Sten­nett and Mi­nor­ity Cau­cus Chair Maryanne Jordan.


The Se­nate has 10 com­mit­tees and the House has 14 com­mit­tees. Repub­li­cans hold all com­mit­tee chair and vicechair po­si­tions.

One of the most pow­er­ful com­mit­tees — the bud­get-set­ting Joint Fi­nance-Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee — has new lead­ers be­cause co-chairs Sen. Shawn Keough and Rep. Max­ine Bell both re­tired. Sen. Steve Bair, of Black­foot, and Rep. Rick Young­blood, of Nampa, are new co-chairs. Lewis­ton Sen. Dan John­son and Idaho Falls Rep. Wendy Hor­man are new vice-chairs.

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

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

Health and Wel­fare: Martin re­places Twin Falls’ Lee Hei­der, who now chairs Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment.

Ju­di­ciary and Rules: Nampa at­tor­ney Todd Lakey gets his first com­mit­tee chair 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 chair and vicechair seats. In the Se­nate, they hold seven of 20 com­mit­tee chair and vice-chair seats.


Gov.-elect Brad Lit­tle will be sworn in as Idaho’s 33rd gov­er­nor at noon, Fri­day, Jan. 4, on the Capi­tol steps.

The new Leg­is­la­ture con­venes at noon on Mon­day, Jan. 7. At 1 p.m. the new gov­er­nor will give his State of the State ad­dress.

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