Idaho’s state Senate has finished assigning chairmanships and committee memberships and adjourned its organizational session. The House, on the other hand, still has to come back tomorrow to finish the job. In the final list in the Senate, new Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, ended up as vice-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “I’m pretty excited as a freshman to be put on as a vice chairman, and that is a big priority for us, so it’s a very appropriate place for me to be,” Hammond said. He said the panel’s new chairman, Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, already has assured him that “Highway 95 is a major priority for us.” Hammond said the highway, the state’s only north-south route, needs to be improved to the same standards that most southern Idaho roads already meet. “That’s a darn busy highway, and it’s still unsafe,” he said. “I mean, if that were a four-lane road, I’d be much less reticent to drive up to Sandpoint for a day. I think a lot of people would.”
Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, will continue as chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, will continue as vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. In addition, Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, will be the new vice-chair of the leadership-dominated Senate State Affairs Committee, Moscow Sen. Gary Schroeder will continue as chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, and Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, will continue as vice-chair of the Health & Welfare Committee.
Keough, for the second time, turned down the chance to chair the Transportation Committee in favor of keeping her seat on Finance, which makes her a member (and, in fact, a vice chair) of the budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “I was next in line, but as before, I think that the seat on JFAC is of critical importance,” Keough said. “Last time, my constituents were very supportive” of that decision, she said. She noted that she still has a seat on the Transportation Committee, too.