Idaho's citizen redistricting commission has gotten locked in its first party-line debate - over, of all things, its public hearing schedule. This afternoon, Democratic commissioners proposed adopting the proposed public hearing schedule presented by the commission's staff, which called for five public hearings outside the Treasure Valley area to be held over the course of June. Republican commissioners offered a substitute motion with an entirely different schedule, calling for 10 out-of-the-area hearings between now and July 1, adding hearings in Sandpoint, both Lewiston and Moscow rather than one or the other, and Soda Springs, Burley and Hailey.
Surprised Democratic commissioners questioned the budgetary impact of the additional hearings. Commissioner Lorna Finman of Rathdrum said she'd forego any compensation, including travel and per diem, to help offset the cost of additional hearings. “I'm not charging anything - per diem , travel costs, zero,” she said. Commission staffers reported that the commission's budget could easily accommodate the additional hearings. Democratic Commissioner Julie Kane said she'd already arranged with her employer for time off for the original, staff-proposed schedule. After some sparring back and forth, the Democrats requested a caucus; the commission is now on break for that.
Asked why the Republicans didn't share their alternate schedule with their Democratic counterparts before proposing it, Commissioner Lou Esposito said, “We just had the time to turn to that, just over lunch. Things are moving quickly.” Added Finman, “Everybody's got busy schedules.” Said commission Co-Chair Evan Frasure, “We just want to have more public input.” The alternative schedule would add hearings in areas where lawsuits arose 10 years ago or where current districts were controversial, including Soda Springs and Sandpoint.