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Eye On Boise

Of rules, concurrence and science standards…

Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, chairman of the Senate Education Committee (Betsy Z. Russell)
Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, chairman of the Senate Education Committee (Betsy Z. Russell)

The intricacies of the state’s administrative rules process create this twist to tomorrow’s House Education Committee consideration of school science standards: It may not matter what the panel does.

Last year, because the House committee insisted on deleting five sections regarding climate change from the standards, while leaving the other 370 sections intact, the Senate Education Committee essentially was forced to go along. The Senate panel, after hearing strong testimony against the move, asked House members to reconsider, but they declined. So the Senate panel agreed to back the House’s move; if the two houses had taken differing positions, Idaho would have reverted back to its previous science standards, which hadn’t been updated since 2001.

But that was when the standards were before the Legislature as a temporary rule. “Temporary rules have to be extended by concurrent resolution in order to remain beyond the end of the session,” said Dennis Stevenson, state administrative rules coordinator. “It requires a concurrent resolution in order to remain in effect.”

But this year, the rule is back in its final version, not as a temporary rule, but as a pending rule. “It’s going to require a concurrent resolution of both houses to reject that,” Stevenson said.

That means if one house wants to reject all or part of the rule, but the other doesn’t, the rule stands. “They both have to agree that they’re going to reject something out of that rule in order for that to happen,” Stevenson said.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, hasn’t yet scheduled a review of the science standards rule in his committee. “I do think that it’s important to let the process have time, to go through the legislative process,” he said. “You need to let people have a chance to weigh in.”

He said he’ll schedule the matter in his committee once the House panel has acted. “It’ll resolve itself, I believe, within the next two to three weeks,” Mortimer said. “We’ll either concur or not with what they do.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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