Ilah Hickman is back — with her salamander bill

The last time Ilah Hickman was seen at the Idaho Statehouse, she was doing what a persistent lobbyist does: staking out House State Affairs Committee Chairman Thomas Loertscher to push for time on the committee calendar.

That was 2014. This year, she got a hearing early.

Ilah Hickman
Ilah Hickman, after Tuesday’s House State Affairs Committee hearing.

On Tuesday, Loertscher’s committee voted to introduce, or “print,” the Les Bois Junior High School eighth-grader’s bill to declare the Idaho giant salamander the state’s amphibian.

She didn’t get unanimous support. There were a couple of audible no’s in Tuesday’s voice vote — but no lawmaker ventured to go on the record in opposition.

But the print hearing was a milestone of sorts. Last year, Hickman’s salamander bill passed the Senate 33-2, but stalled in House State Affairs.

As usual, Hickman came prepared to make her case. She pointed out that the Idaho giant salamander is an ideal choice for a state amphibian, since it lives almost exclusively in the Gem State, and boasts a design on its back that resembles a topographical map of the Bitterroot Mountains.

And she had materials ready for committee members, such as Mountain Home Republican Pete Nielsen, who wanted to see a picture of the salamander in question. “I’ve never seen one of these rascals.”

When Hickman comes back to committee, Nielsen will get to see one — face to face. She pledged to bring in a live giant salamander, “in an aquarium, of course.”



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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