BOISE – Idaho lawmakers wrapped up their organizational session Thursday with new Democratic leadership in the House, some shifts in key committees and a friendly gesture from the governor.
House Assistant Minority Leader George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, stepped down from leadership to devote more time to legislation – including a child care licensing law he’ll push again this year – and representing his North Idaho district.
“I also had no further political ambitions, and I thought it’d be good to let somebody else have a chance to develop leadership,” Sayler said.
House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, gave up her post after 10 years to join the joint budget committee, which will do battle this year over spending cuts. House Democrats elected Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, as the new minority leader.
There were few other changes in top leadership and committee chairmanships; the only open committee chairmanship, Senate Agriculture, went to Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home.
But House GOP leaders decided to expand the House Health and Welfare Committee, which has heard from disabled Idahoans concerned about the impact of budget cuts on their treatment services. And new Senate Transportation Committee members include a former chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board, the recently elected Chuck Winder, D-Boise.
When senators sent a committee to inform Gov. Butch Otter they’d completed their session, Otter made a point of meeting them in the park between his office and the Capitol Annex where lawmakers were meeting.
“He met us halfway,” Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, happily announced.