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A Seat in the House

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Committee assignments for the 2011 session of the Idaho Legislature

I stated in the December River Journal that I would provide information on leadership positions and major committee assignments as a result of the Senate and House reorganization session that was held December 1 and 2. 

The Senate did have changes in the majority party (Republican) leadership positions: Senator Brent Hill of Rexburg was elected President Pro Tempore, Senator Bart Davis of Idaho Falls retained his position as Majority Leader, Chuck Winder of Boise was elected as Assistant Majority Leader and John McGee was elected as Majority Caucus Chair. 

The minority party (Democrat) also had changes in their leadership positions. Senator Edgar Malepeai of Pocatello was elected as Minority Leader, Senator Les Bock of Boise was elected as Assistant Minority Leader and Senator Michelle Stennett of Ketchum was elected as Minority Caucus Chair.

Senator Shawn Keough and Senator Joyce Broadsword of our legislative districts one and two retained their same committee assignments. Senator Keough (Legislative District 1) serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and is also a member of the Senate Transportation Committee. Senator Broadsword (Legislative District 2) is Vice-Chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and continues as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee meet jointly and is referred to as the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC).

The House retained its same majority party (Republican) leadership but did have some changes in committee chairmanships and committee member assignments. The minority party (Democrat) did make changes in their leadership positions. Representative John Rusche of Lewiston retained the Minority Leader position, Representative Elfreda Higgins of Garden City was elected Assistant Minority Leader and Representative Brian Cronin of Boise was elected Minority Caucus Chair.

In our legislative districts one and two, I remain on the House Appropriations Committee (JFAC), the House Natural Resources and Conservation Committee and the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. Representative Anderson (Legislative District 1) remains on the House State Affairs Committee and the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. Representative Dick Harwood (Legislative District 2) remains on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, the House Resources and Conservation Committee and the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. 

Representative Shannon McMillan (Republican, District 2) defeated Representative Mary Lou Shepherd (Democrat) in the November election and was assigned to the House Agriculture Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.

I have been asked by many what the major issue will be for the legislature when the session begins on January 10. In my opinion, although there will be legislative action on a variety of legislative proposals, the budget will be the most significant action of this legislature.

Governor Otter will start the process with his State of the State and Budget message on January 10, the first day of the legislative session. The Governor’s budget message will contain his recommendations to the legislature for its consideration in determining spending levels for the various agencies. The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee will review the Governor’s proposals on the following day and then begin budget hearings on Wednesday, January 12.

JFAC has set aside about five weeks to allow agencies and institutions to make their formal budget presentations. For the first time that I am aware of JFAC has also scheduled two meetings to provide an opportunity for individuals of the public to testify on education and the health and human services agencies’ budgets. The testimony on education issues is scheduled for January 21 and on the health and human services agencies on January 28. 

Following the agencies’ hearings JFAC will begin the actual budget setting process. This is scheduled to begin February 21 and finish on March 11. The legislature will either approve or reject the JFAC agency appropriation recommendations as they are presented to the legislature during the budget process; those agency appropriations approved by the legislature will be sent to the Governor for his approval or rejection. In the event that the Senate, House or Governor rejects a specific agency appropriation that agency’s appropriation will be sent back to JFAC for review and possible change.

Other legislative actions are scheduled in parallel with the budget setting process and when this process ends the session begins to wind down. The scheduling target for ending this legislative session is March 25.

The public is invited to follow the legislature on the Internet with both audio and video streaming. Information on committee actions, legislation and other legislative actions can also be found on the legislature website

As always I welcome your input on issues important to you. I can be reached in Boise during the session by e-mail at idaholeginfo(at)lso.idaho.gov and by phone at 800-626-0471.

Happy New Year to all of you! Don’t forget to enter 2011 on your checkbook date space and THANKS FOR READING! George

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Rep. George Eskridge Rep. George Eskridge the Republican Representative for District 1 in Idaho’s House, George Eskridge can be reached at 208-265-0123 or write PO Box 112, Dover, ID 83825

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Idaho Legislature, legislative committees

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