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Sen. Souza’s school board elections bill clears House, 50-18

UPDATED: Tue., March 13, 2018, 6:35 p.m.

Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene (Betsy Z. Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene (Betsy Z. Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

BOISE - Legislation to shift Idaho school board elections from May to November cleared the Idaho House on a 50-18 vote Tuesday and headed to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, has long pushed for the bill. Among those voting against it on Tuesday were were House Education Chair Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. All North Idaho representatives voted in favor of it except for Rep. Margie Gannon, D-St. Maries.

Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, told the House that the bill was “three years in the making, involved stakeholders and compromise.”

Souza originally proposed moving school board elections to November of even-numbered years – the same time as partisan elections for president, governor, Legislature and more. Nonpartisan, unpaid school boards, including the Coeur d’Alene school board, strongly opposed that move. This year’s bill is a compromise, moving the school elections to November of odd-numbered years, the same time as non-partisan city elections.

Souza said her bill is intended to increase voter turnout and citizen involvement in local schools, by moving the election to the higher-profile November general election date.