Posts tagged: idaho legislature
Idaho's 'fetal pain' abortion law, banning abortions after 20 weeks based on the disputed idea that a fetus at that point can feel pain, has been overturned in federal court as unconstitutional. The law, passed in 2011, was found to be an undue burden on a woman's right to have an abortion. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill, in a 42-page decision, found “compelling evidence of the legislature's 'improper purpose' in enacting it,” writing, “The state may not rely on its interest in the potential life of the fetus to place a substantial obstacle to abortion before viability in women's paths.”
The ruling also strikes down two other Idaho laws regarding abortion, one requiring that first-trimester abortions be performed by a physician in a staffed office, thereby making drug-induced abortions illegal; and one that criminalizes women who have abortions. “Historically, abortion statutes sought to protect pregnant females from third parties providing dangerous abortions,” the judge wrote. “As a result, most states' abortion laws traditionally criminalized the behavior of third parties to protect the health of pregnant women — they did not punish women for obtaining an abortion. By punishing women, Idaho's abortion statute is therefore unusual.” Click below for a full report from AP reporters Rebecca Boone and Todd Dvorak.
Lawmakers from Lewiston north will take up eight of the 20 seats on the Idaho Legislature's powerful joint budget committee when the legislative session convenes in January, doubling the representation for the region on the budget-writing panel. “Five of us are in the northern Panhandle, so to the degree there might be northern issues that we all would agree on, we certainly would have the opportunity for some leverage there,” said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, a ninth-term senator who will again serve as the Senate vice-chair of the joint committee.
Clout for North Idaho has varied over the years in the Idaho Legislature, with no North Idaho lawmakers serving in the majority leadership of the House or Senate, either in the past year or the upcoming session; this time, none even ran. But the budget committee is a place where lawmakers from a region can combine to boost a project from their area. Meanwhile, the number of committee chairmanships held by North Idaho lawmakers will stay even in 2013. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Click below for the full list of House committee assignments for the upcoming 2013 legislative session.
The House Appropriations Committee - the House half of JFAC - has the following members for the 2013 legislative session: Reps. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, chair; Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, vice-chair; George Eskridge, R-Dover; Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls; Marc Gibbs, R-Grace; Steve Miller, R-Fairfield; Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston; Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa; Phylis King, D-Boise; and Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow.
The House has now adjourned its organizational session, a bit before noon on its second day. “I would like to thank all the members of the body for their patience and their forbearance these last two days,” said Speaker Scott Bedke. “I think the House of Representatives is in very good shape, regardless of the amount of turnover that we had,” he said.
New House committee chairs' names have been read across the desk. Among them: Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, is the new chairman of the Business Committee, and Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, is the new chair of Ways & Means.
Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, will chair Commerce; Rep. Lenore Barret will remain as Local Government chair; and Rep. Joe Palmer will remain as Transportation chair. Rep. Gary Collins will chair Rev & Tax, with Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, as vice-chair.
The Health & Welfare Committee will move its meetings to mornings, and it will have privileged-committee status.
Former House Speaker Lawerence Denney is the new chairman of the House Resources Committee. “I told Scott that I want to do anything that I can to help him be successful, and if a chairmanship was what he wanted, I'd do that,” Denney said. New Speaker Scott Bedke, who ousted Denney as speaker on Wednesday night, said yesterday that he wanted a “substantive” role for Denney, saying with the high number of freshman lawmakers in the House this year, “I feel very strongly that we don't have the luxury to not use our experienced legislators, including Rep. Denney.”
Denney, shown here talking with new House GOP Caucus Chair John Vander Woude, R-Meridian, said he considers the Resources Committee among the most important in a state like Idaho, but doesn't yet have specific issues he wants to address there. “It's still pretty new for me,” he said.
Denney said, “I think the founding fathers made this process a great process by having this organizational session a month before we started the regular session, to give us all a month to acclimate ourselves.” This year's session will include “some very substantive issues that we need to deal with, and with all the new people, I think it's going to start very slowly … while they're all learning the ropes,” he said.
For now, he said, leaving the House floor to head downstairs, “I've got to get down there and get trained to be a chairman.”
The Idaho House is back in session this morning to continue its organizational session; it just briefly convened before recessing. “We're almost done, trust us - we're almost there,” Majority Leader Mike Moyle told the House. “Stay close,” he said. “We'll recess for a few minutes.”
House GOP leaders are hoping to finalize committee assignments by 11 a.m. or so.
OK, scratch that - the House leadership has decided not to release the list of new committee chairs until it's formally read across the desk in the morning. Word already is out about many of them; Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, is in line to become the new Health & Welfare chairman; Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, is headed for the Education Committee chairmanship; and JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, will continue in her role.
Health & Welfare will now be a morning committee, a change that means Wood no longer will be able to serve on JFAC. “I liked JFAC … it was fun, it was interesting,” Wood said. “Been there six years, and it's time to move on.” A physician, he said he sought the Health & Welfare chairmanship, and this will be a key year for that panel, with big issues in store. “There will be a lot of discussion,” he said, “as opposed to trying to run major pieces of legislation without having full discussion in both caucuses of the House about what the legislation is, what the implications of the legislation is, etc. I think that's a good thing, that is a welcome change in the future as opposed to how sometimes we've done it in the past.”
The House has now adjourned for the day; it'll come back into session at 9 a.m. on Friday. “We've made most of the decisions,” Speaker Scott Bedke told the House. “We want to sleep on some of them. We'll come back fresh in the morning and we will announce the committee assignments. The chairs have been assigned, and we will be making an announcement to the press on adjournment.”
He said, “We appreciate your forbearance today, and the patience that you've shown. These are always trying days, but I think we've come through this day as easily as any I can remember in the past.” The list of House committee chairs should be available shortly.
The Senate has adjourned its organizational session sine die - meaning without a day, or for good - wrapping up its business. Here, that's formalized by committees of senators who visited the governor's office and the House leadership to inform them the Senate is now organized, and reported back. Now there's just the House still getting organized for the 2013 session.
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, former chairwoman of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, is the new chair of the Senate Judiciary & Rules Committee, taking over from longtime Chairman Denton Darrington, R-Declo, who retired from the Senate. “It wasn't something I was aspiring to do, follow in Denton's footsteps,” Lodge said. “But it's a great challenge. I've been on the committee for 12 years.”
Lodge's husband, Edward, is the state's senior federal judge.
Said the seventh-term senator, “I hope I'll provide something important that's beneficial for the taxpayers.”
The Senate Finance Committee, the Senate half of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, will have a high number of new members in the coming session. Among them: Sens. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens; Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood; Cliff Bayer, R-Boise; Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; Steven Thayn, R-Emmett; Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow; and Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello.
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, continues as vice chair; and Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, will continue to serve on the panel.
Vick, a second-term senator, said he's wanted to get on the joint committee since he arrived in the Senate. “Not everybody likes to do it, because it is a lot of work and a lot of numbers,” he said. “I spent eight years in the appropriations committee in Montana.” Vick said the panel, which writes the state budget, is “the most important committee,” and said his goal there will be to “keep government spending low.”
New Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, got three committee assignments: Education, Agriculture and Transportation. There had been some speculation that Nonini might be left without committee assignments as punishment for his attempts in the primary to unseat sitting GOP senators by bankrolling their primary challengers.
“I talked to all those that were involved,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “There was no indication anyone wanted retribution.” He added, “I had no cries from those that were most affected to mete out any kind of punishment. … I would speculate that if it were to happen again, the mood would be very much different. … We can make a mistake once.”
Nonini pronounced himself “very happy” with his committee assignments.
Though the House is still working, the Senate has settled on its committee assignments and chairmanships, and will convene at 3 p.m. to formalize that. New committee chairs are Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot, Agriculture; Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, Commerce; Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, Health & Welfare; Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, Judiciary & Rules; Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, Local Government & Taxation; and Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, Transportation.
Continuing committee chairmen are Goedde, Education; Cameron, Finance; Pearce, Resources; and McKenzie, State Affairs.
You can read the full list here of all Senate committee assignments for the 2013 session.
Idaho's oldest lawmaker turned 90 today; Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls, is spending his birthday participating in the Legislature's organizational session and working on economic development issues. “It's spectacular,” Henderson said. “Sixth of December, 1922. My parents said they gave me some durable genes, and that's what it takes.”
Asked if there's anything else he'd rather spend his 90th birthday doing, Henderson said he does like to travel. But, he said, “This is an important part of my life.” Henderson said he'll travel later. StateImpact Idaho has an radio interview with Henderson on NPR today; you can listen here.
New Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke is considering a “substantive” role for former Speaker Lawerence Denney, Bedke said today - possibly a chairmanship. “We do not have the luxury to overlook experience, given the current makeup,” Bedke said. “I want to sit down with him.” Denney hasn't requested a chairmanship, Bedke said. “He has not asked.” But he said, “I feel very strongly that we don't have the luxury to not use our experienced legislators, including Rep. Denney.”
“My platform all along has been one of inclusion,” the newly elected speaker said. “I think we need to make a few fundamental changes in the way we do some things behind the scenes, given the size of this freshman class. … They've all come to go to work.” He said, “There'll be freshmen on Rev & Tax, there'll be freshmen on JFAC, there'll be freshmen on each of the committees.” Bedke said of the big new freshman class in the House, “By necessity they will have more of a role this time, because of the large turnover.”
He also said he plans to meet with each existing committee chairman; he's not planning any changes, but said, “I reserve the right to make changes based on these interviews.” Bedke also said he wants to consult with each chairman on the choice of members for each committee; that could stretch out today's business of assigning committees, possibly into tomorrow, though he hopes to conclude it today. “I suspect I'll be more hands-on in the committee selection process,” Bedke said.
He said he'll strive for both regional and, where possible, ideological balance on committees. “I think when you avoid the appearance of a stacked committee, then things go a lot better.”
Bedke said the new Idaho House has a “can-do attitude.” “We're not divided,” he said. “There's been changes, that's sure, but we're not at odds with one another.”
He said, “I'm very impressed with the caliber of people we have here. … In my discussions with caucus members, I've emphasized … each of these people bear acquaintance, and to avoid the tendency to label, avoid the tendency to stereotype.” Said Bedke, “We will find the consensus on each issue and if you're outside that consensus, that should be OK, and then we'll go on to the next issue.” House members shouldn't be afraid to speak out, he said. “I would like to create a very positive group dynamic. I believe if we all feel comfortable laying our cards on the table, that we can make a hand that's superior to each of ours individually.”
“I am not going to be heavy-handed - I think that's counterproductive long term,” Bedke said. “But I do have my limits.”
The new speaker said, “I'm gratified, I'm humbled, I'm happy. I didn't take this on lightly. I worked.”
Before the House recessed subject to the call of the chair, House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, stood and said, “I'd like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and my caucus to offer my respects and thanks to the former speaker for the service he gave the House of Representatives.” The House then gave outgoing Speaker Lawerence Denney a standing ovation; he stayed in his seat, emotions playing on his face.
New Speaker Scott Bedke said he hopes to wrap up the business of committee assignments and chairmanships today, but it could go into tomorrow.
With seat selection completed, the Senate has recessed until 3 p.m., at which time it hopes to have committee assignments completed, including chairmanships. Here, new Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, a former House member, attaches his name tag to his new front-row seat in the Senate chamber.
As House members' names are called in order of seniority so they can select their seats in the House chamber, Chief Clerk Bonnie Alexander called new Speaker Scott Bedke's name, but said, “He has his seat.” In the group of lawmakers standing waiting for their turn, Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, chuckled, “He does - that's an understatement.”
For those of equal seniority, Alexander is literally drawing the names out of a hat to see who goes first.
It fell to outgoing House Speaker Lawerence Denney this morning to call for the motions for nomination for speaker of the House, knowing that it won't be for him. Majority Leader Mike Moyle formally nominated new Speaker Scott Bedke, and Minority Leader John Rusche seconded the motion. Denney tripped over the formalities in his final duties as speaker, calling for a voice vote before the nominations had been closed - at which everyone said “aye.” “Shouldn't have done that,” Denney said quietly with a wry smile.
After Moyle had asked that nominations cease and a unanimous ballot be cast, Denney declared, “The ayes have it and the motion carries.” Bedke was escorted to the speaker's chair, where Denney administered the oath of office to him and handed over the gavel and lapel microphone. Then, Denney was escorted quietly back to Bedke's former seat on the floor.
Prior to that handover, all members of both the House and Senate took their oaths of office. The House and Senate both have now gone at ease for selection of seats, which occurs in order of seniority. Moyle told the House, “This is the time where you hurry up and wait … after we choose the seats.” For the remainder of the organizational session, committee assignments and chairmanships will be hashed out by legislative leaders, before they're finalized and formalized on the floor.