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Putting together the puzzle

It’s hurry up and wait at the Statehouse today, as legislative leaders puzzle over how to fit together the jigsaw of committee assignments and chairmanships. The House has adjourned until 8 a.m. tomorrow, admitting it won’t get it done today, but the Senate is still working on it. Among the news so far: Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, will chair the Senate Local Government & Taxation Committee, and Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, will chair the Senate Transportation Committee. Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, is taking over the Health & Welfare Committee, and Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, was tapped to chair the Senate State Affairs Committee. The Senate has posted a sheet for each committee in the hallway with chairs and members written in blue marker, but some names have been crossed out and the membership lists reportedly have changed from what the posted lists show, so things are still somewhat in flux.

New Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, a former state Board of Education member, initially was going to be on the education committee, but he said that’s changed, and now he’s on Health & Welfare instead. The freshman senator did get Commerce and Transportation, though, he said, and he wanted those. “Those two can really matter for Post Falls,” he said.

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, is a new member of the Senate Finance Committee, and was conferring with Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, that panel’s vice-chair. “I think it’ll be really good for my district,” Broadsword said. “Sen. Keough and Rep. Eskridge are good role models and mentors and they will help me as I find my way through the maze.”

On the House side, chairmanships were shifting quickly, and nothing had proceeded beyond back-room negotiations. The House plans to announce committee chairmanships and memberships tomorrow. One member who’s up for a chairmanship – though it’s not clear yet which one – had an eventful two days, to say the least. Rep. Bill Deal, R-Nampa, lost to Rep. Lawerence Denney last night in the battle to be House speaker, and then today he had to leave the House chamber to go to the emergency room. Luckily, the House includes two medical doctors – Reps. Fred Wood and John Rusche – and they helped out. Deal returned this afternoon looking his old self. “I just got ill this morning and I talked to my good friend Dr. Fred Wood, and said, ‘I’m not feeling too good,’” Deal said. “I got checked out. They had just marvelous care at St. Luke’s. They found I had a little intestinal infection – nothing that can’t be fixed by a little antibiotics.” He added, “I’m feeling great –look at me. And it’s my birthday.”

Earlier, House members had sung Happy Birthday to Deal during their session.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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