Many lawmakers dislike interim committees, the legislative panels that are put together to spend the offseason studying issues that didn’t get resolved during the regular legislative session.
But here’s another thing lawmakers dislike: the possibility that the legislative branch may be usurped by the executive branch.
Those two “dislikes” collided in the Senate Education Committee Thursday, when the committee considered a summer homework assignment in education policy.
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, wants an interim committee to examine teacher labor issues, the subject of a laundry list of bills this session. But the interim committee proposed by House Concurrent Resolution 33 has a broad scope: “to undertake and complete a study of how to improve and strengthen Idaho’s K-12 educational system and all matters relating thereto.”
Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, questioned what the committee could accomplish, absent a focused agenda. Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, criticized the committee’s $10,000 cost. Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, asked what would happen if the interim committee arrived at a different set of conclusions than Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force.
Said Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, a task force member, “That is a good question.”
But Goedde argued that it didn’t make sense to simply have an arm of the executive branch reviewing education topics. Sen. Russell Fulcher, R-Meridian, echoed that sentiment.
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“We do need to engage,” Fulcher said. “And unless you engage, you can’t be part of the solution.”
A motion to hold HCR 33 failed on a narrow 4-5 committee. After that, the committee sent the resolution to the Senate floor with a do-pass recommendation.