Ilah Hickman, the young lady who bowled over a House committee last year with her persuasive pitch to make the Idaho giant salamander the state amphibian but didn’t end up getting a full hearing, is back at the Statehouse today, where she has a hearing on her bill in the Senate State Affairs Committee. “Sen. Ward-Engelking says I have a pretty good chance,” an excited Ilah said before the meeting. She noted that since last year, she’s picked up support from Frank Lundburg, a herpetologist who in past years lobbied for such measures as Idaho wildlife license plates. “I think it’s amazing, what she’s done,” Lundberg said.
He said he thinks the youngster’s bill should be a “no-brainer,” but added that people thought that about the bluebird plate, too, but it took some doing. Ilah has been working on the proposal since she learned about state symbols in the 4th grade, and she got a class assignment to write a mock letter creating a new state symbol. Ilah decided to do a real one, and has been working diligently on that ever since; she’s now 13 and in the 7th grade. Last year, she told the House committee the critter is an appropriate state symbol. “It bears the name of Idaho, and I think that the skin on it looks like the topographical map of our Bitterroot mountain range,” she said then. “It lives almost exclusively in Idaho.”