As we reported yesterday, the Idaho State Capitol is hosting its incoming class of freshman legislators, prepping them for their first day of
school work. The troupe sported new fancy-pants laptops in embroidered Idaho bags—though unlike some community colleges, when they're done they won't get to keep the lappies.
After the new electees brushed up on Idaho Statutes, reviewed the budget setting procedure and learned how to best utilize the media, they got a little lecture from the House and Senate Majority leadership on how the whole committee process will shake out.
Oakley Republican Scott Bedke told the new lawmakers that their personal interests or experience may not coincide with the committee they end up on. For example, if you've got an agriculture background, you could end up on the Education Committee—a spot Bedke ended up with, against his wishes.
"This is like drinking out of a fire hydrant," said Bedke. "Where you start out is not where you end up."
His advice was not to sweat it. Stick it out or "they" will know. Bedke also informed the newbies that computers keep track of where each legislator's sitting.
"We have an excel spreadsheet that's pretty sophisticated," bragged Bedke. "So if you move we get a tickler that let's us know."
Although any committee hopping has to be approved by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, the Majority and Minority leadership
battle hammer out the details of who goes where. As for picking the head legislator of the chambers, that's left up to a "closed, secret" ballot of the bodies, said Bedke.
All this machinery starts up tomorrow, said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Joe Stegner of Lewiston. That's when the freshman class officially goes on payroll. Next up is the one-day organizational session, in which both chambers will move through their members according to seniority, assigning them to their respective committees.
"At the end of the day when the white smoke comes out of the chimney," said Bedke, "we post it on the wall and read it across the desk."
Tomorrow's line-up: Law School for Legislators. Expect the Ethics debate to dance around the white elephant (one Atholite legislator's tax woes), as well as address conflicts of interest and break-down of legalese.