Scouting the K-12 interim committee

Which lawmakers will spend the summer on a broad homework assignment: “to undertake and complete a study of how to improve and strengthen Idaho’s K-12 educational system and all matters relating thereto”?

We won’t know for sure for more than a month.

But legislative “interim committees” are starting to take some shape behind the scenes.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill says he hopes to sit down with House Speaker Scott Bedke in the next few days to talk about the committees’ makeup, including the K-12 committee. And it’s likely that the K-12 interim committee will include 10 members, four Republicans and one Democrat from both the House and the Senate, Hill, R-Rexburg, told Idaho Education News’ Clark Corbin Monday night.

Nothing will be final until the Legislative Council meets, Bedke said Monday. The council, the 14-member panel that oversees legislative activities, is scheduled to meet May 31.

What about membership?

House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley

Let’s start with the two education committee chairmen. Bedke wants House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt on board, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde expects to be on the committee as well, a reasonable assumption. For Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, this would mean double duty. Both lawmakers also sit on Gov. Butch Otter’s 31-member education reform task force — a separate body, created late last year, that is expected to make recommendations to the 2014 Legislature.

In a recent interview, Bedke said he is impressed with the newcomers on House Education — a 16-member committee loaded with nine first-year lawmakers. And Bedke sought an interim committee to look at collective bargaining issues — and review the laws, echoing elements of the defeated Proposition 1, that the 2013 Legislature approved on a one-year basis.

While Bedke didn’t name names, the labor focus might give an edge to two House newcomers with local school board experience: Reps. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, and Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree.

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Rusche said he is considering two first-term Democrats from Boise: Holli Woodings and Hy Kloc. A couple of sidelights: Woodings does not sit on House Education, and Kloc was one of only seven House members to vote against the resolution creating the interim committee. Rusche said he is leaning against naming Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, a Boise Democrat and retired teacher, since she already serves on the governor’s education reform task force.

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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