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Eye on Boise: Lawmakers ante up for arts, after first killing budget

After the Idaho House earlier had rejected the budget for the Idaho Commission on the Arts in an unrelated dispute, it voted 51-17 on Thursday in favor of a new version with just one difference: There’s an extra $200 in the budget from legislators’ private donations for arts education projects.

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, in an unusual move, announced to the House, “I’m taking up a collection.” She brandished a stack of cash. “Members of JFAC have already been very generous, as well as many members around me,” she told the House.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, on which Horman serves, can’t write an identical budget after one’s been killed; it has to make at least some small change. Horman proposed a $100 higher amount, with the intention of taking up the collection from lawmakers; Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, one-upped her, proposing $200 instead. That’s the budget that passed the joint committee, and then both houses.

Horman said, “Good ladies and gentlemen of the House, please help me put to rest the worries of the Arts Commission.” Lawmakers anted up $210.

Legislative Limerick No. 1:

Honk, honk, honk

I penned this limerick a week and a half before the close of this year’s Idaho legislative session, inspired by a very large Canada goose that was comfortably perched on a Statehouse window ledge, looking for all the world like it was hers and hers alone:

With lawmakers still on the loose

Lots of ideas have got juice

From Sharia slams

To plastic-bag bans

Time to leave this place to the goose?

Legislative Limerick

No. 2: When the gears of government grind

Gears often grind toward the end of a legislative session, and people get testy. But certain types of bills don’t tend to see as many holdups, inspiring this limerick:

Laws to address all the fears

From Sharia to Bible sneers

Go gliding on through

As gun-rights bills do

While other stuff gums up the gears.

Legislative Limerick No. 3:

Rep. Dixon’s revelation

During debate on a Bible-in-schools bill in the House, opponents raised questions about whether the measure violated the Idaho Constitution, to which the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, said, “The little Supreme Court in my head says this is OK.” That inspired this limerick:

There’s a little Supreme Court in his head

And he’ll tell us all what it said

How this will hasten

Analyzing legislation

Now no one could possibly see red.

Legislative Limerick No. 4:

Some session accomplishments

This limerick was inspired by major reforms that had passed, even as lawmakers were focused on unrelated late-session fights:

From firefighter cancer coverage to suicide prevention to public defense reform …

Things that were long in the works

Have seen more than just fits and jerks

For all the debate

That carried less weight

Some actual big reform lurks.

Legislative Limerick No. 5:

On avoiding doing nothing

I wrote this limerick after a series of fits and starts in the House Health & Welfare Committee, which first scheduled a meeting to consider small grant and study committee steps toward dealing with the health care coverage gap issue, then canceled the meeting in favor of working on a more comprehensive plan to actually provide coverage to those in the gap, then stepped back again and just passed the two original bills.

A grant and a study committee

To show that lawmakers have pity

For folks in the gap

Cause the session’s a wrap

It’s something, but it’s itty-bitty.

Legislative Limerick No. 6:

Time for sine die?

House Speaker Scott Bedke surprised House members on the Wednesday of the final week of this year’s session with a dozen original limericks, all strictly within the bounds of House rules, and designed around the formalities of recognizing lawmakers as they present bills. “I started ’em, and then it turned out that Mary Lou is like a whiz,” Bedke said, referring to Assistant to the Speaker Mary Lou Molitor. “So I gave her the last line, and she’d back into ’em.”

He added, “So if I gave credit where it’s due, we would all be thanking Mary Lou.”

Bedke said the outbreak of rhyming was prompted by a kick House members had been on in recent days, using flowery oratory when they make their standard request to waive further reading before they begin presenting a bill. “I appreciate that,” Bedke said. “So I felt that as a tension-breaker, I would season my responses today on the floor with that.” He noted that emotions were running high in the House. So, that prompts this:

Who knew the speaker could rhyme

And turn a fine phrase on a dime

But Mary Lou’s skill

Could all be for nil

Unless it is soon quittin’ time.

Legislative Limerick No. 7:

What the geese leave behind

Hundreds, or possibly thousands, of Canada geese populate downtown Boise and can be seen all around the state Capitol. Hence this rhyme:

Little green piles of goose poop

Dot downtown routes to the Capitol stoop

Citizens come

To see lawmaking done

But first they encounter some goop.

Legislative Limerick No. 8:

What will the reps do?

This limerick was penned after the Senate had amended HB 644, the health care bill, to append a proposal to begin negotiations for a federal waiver to cover Idahoans who make less than 100 percent of the poverty level with a new managed-care plan:

So, will House members concur?

Hatreds of feds they’ll aver

With senators wanting

What some reps find daunting

That chamber is now quite astir.

Legislative Limerick No. 9:

It’s 7:25 p.m. and both houses are still on the floor …

This limerick was penned on what was supposed to be the final night of the legislative session, but turned out not to be. That’s because the House didn’t take up either of the bills mentioned, instead adjourning to come back and handle them in the morning. The Senate, however, did finish up and adjourned sine die on Thursday night at 9.

As they debate into the night

Will some of them run out of fight?

There’s still the gap bill

And legal fund for $8 mil

Before they can turn out the light.

Follow reporter Betsy Z. Russell on the Eye on Boise blog at blogs/boise. She can be reached at or (208) 336-2854.

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