The House Education Committee will be under new leadership during the 2019 session.
On Friday, House leaders tabbed Twin Falls Republican Rep. Lance Clow to chair the committee.
Clow will succeed former Rep. Julie VanOrden, who was defeated in the May Republican primary election.
Although he learned of his new committee chairmanship Friday morning, Clow said he put word out within the Legislature that he hoped to lead House Education.
“It has been high on my personal priority list to get that appointment,” Clow said.
A retired personal financial adviser, Clow is beginning his fourth term in the Legislature. He’s served on House Education for the past six years.
Clow previously served as Twin Falls mayor for six years and was a member of the City Council there for 18 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from California Lutheran University.
Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, will serve as House Education’s vice chairman. Kerby is the retired superintendent of the New Plymouth School District.
This summer and fall, Clow and Kerby regularly attended meetings of the Legislature’s Public School Funding Formula Interim Committee, even though they were not committee members. Attending the meetings allowed them to study the proposed formula rewrite, which could become the top education issue of 2019.
As a city government veteran, Clow said he is concerned by the number of school districts that could see significant funding decreases under the rewrite — even if the Legislature held these schools harmless for three years. Under the most recent draft, 36 school districts or charters would expect a funding decrease from 2017-18, while the remaining districts would expect an increase or no change.
Education issues are personal for Clow. His wife, DeeDee, is a retired teacher and his daughter teaches.
“I just have a lot vested in the topic,” Clow said.
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said he chose Clow for “his work ethic, his attention to detail and his diligence in getting to the bottom of issues.”
But, Bedke also expects Clow to lean on Kerby’s education policy experience.
“The lines between the chair and the vice chair will be a little blurry,” Bedke said. “Rep. Kerby had a long career in education, everywhere from the classroom to all the administrative positions and I think he even coached. He has been there and done that.”
With all the education issues on the horizon, from a potential school funding formula rewrite to a fifth year of raises under the career ladder salary law, Clow and Kerby won’t have much time to ease into their roles.
“It’s going to be a workhorse committee, and those two gentleman are up to the task,” Bedke said.
In other legislative news, House leaders appointed a new co-chair of the budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, will serve as co-chair. Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, will serve as vice chair of JFAC. For the last several years Horman has taken a leading role in setting and carrying the public school budget on the House floor.
The 2019 legislative session kicks of Jan. 7.
House Education Committee
- Chairman Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls.
- Vice Chair Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth.
- Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins.
- Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale.
- Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene.
- Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, R-Eagle.
- Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Challis.
- Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls.
- Rep. Bill Goesling, R-Moscow. *
- Rep. Gary Marshall, R-Idaho Falls. *
- Rep. Jerald Raymond, R-Menan. *
- Rep. Tony Wisniewski, R-Post Falls. *
- Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City.
- Rep. Chris Abernathy, D-Pocatello. *
- Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise. *
(* new assignment for 2019)