Welcome to week two of the legislative session!
Let’s get started
Things have started moving at the Statehouse. Most committees have met at least once and taken care of organizational matters – who’s sitting where, naming the committee’s student page, and discussing testimony protocol. Each committee works a little differently, with Chairs having a great deal of power over deciding what bills are heard, how testimony is taken, and what gets priority. Chairs are the first decision makers on all pieces of legislation. If a bill sponsor can’t find a committee chair to add their legislation to the agenda, the bill dies before it’s even been heard.
Virtual testimony now available (but not everywhere…)
Also up to the Chairs is how public testimony works. In the Senate, it’s been decided that all committees will hear both in-person and virtual testimony, though you must sign up in advance for either. To sign up, find the bill you’d like to testify on within the committee’s agenda; you’ll find a link at the bottom (highlighted in red). Click it, then follow the directions. If you have difficulties, contact the committee secretary listed on the agenda. You can explore the committee webpage here.
In the House, it’ll be up to each committee chair whether they’ll hear virtual testimony or not, as well as who gets priority. For example, State Affairs Chairman Brent Crane said he would allow virtual testimony, though in-person testimony will be heard first. Written testimony is always an option as well, which can be submitted on the legislative website as well, or sent directly to the committee secretary to be included in the legislators’ packets ahead of the meeting. More information on testimony – both in-person and virtual – can be found here.
Bills to watch out for this week:
Things are so far somewhat quiet around the statehouse as far as new legislation. Late last week, Representative Julianne Young introduced a bill dealing with elections audits, but there’s nothing alarming in the legislation. We will continue to monitor and keep you in the loop as bills arise! You can also follow along on your own with the CVI Bill Tracker.
Not a bill, but we are seeing potential changes to how the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee decides which state budgets pass and which budgets don’t. These changes could have a major impact on how Idaho runs. Agencies must have an approved budget in order to function, and if the House (or Senate) decides to hold a budget in committee, it could muck up the whole process. Check out this great explainer piece from the Idaho Capital Sun. Budgeting, while somewhat mundane or even boring for some of us, is an essential duty of the legislature.
A big thanks to you all!
We had a wonderful time hosting the Reception of Conservation Legislators last night with our friends at the Idaho Conservation League. Big thanks to all of you, the elected officials who took time out of their busy days, and our awesome staff for such a successful event!