Legislature returning to town on Nov. 15

The Idaho Senate adjourned for the year in May — but the House voted only to go into recess. However, both houses will return to work on Nov. 15.

The Idaho Legislature will come back into session on Nov. 15 — to discuss vaccine mandates and a House ethics complaint.

Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press wrote first on the November session. Idaho Education News received confirmation from three House members Monday afternoon.

Legislative committee chairpersons met Monday to discuss, and set, the Nov. 15 date.

The Legislature could wind up considering a variety of bills addressing federal vaccine mandates, House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, told Russell.

“There’s a lot of different ideas out there dealing with vaccine mandates,” Bedke told Russell. “The objective is to get all of the various ideas out into the public domain, to start the process. I don’t know how many of them, if any of them, will get critical legislative mass, in our bicameral system, but we’ll see.”

Also on the agenda is an ethics complaint against Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, Russell reported. In August, the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to censure Giddings and strip her of one of her committee assignments, after Giddings posted on Facebook the name and identity of the 19-year-old legislative staffer who has accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape.

The Legislature’s return to town is not a surprise.

When lawmakers left the Statehouse in May — on the 122nd day of the session, the longest in Idaho history — the House didn’t actually adjourn. The House instead voted to recess, and reconvene sometime before Dec. 31. The Senate adjourned for the year — adjourning “sine die,” in legislative lexicon. But Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder told Russell that the Senate will return on Nov. 15.

The House technically left one piece of education-related legislation hanging on its calendar. A Senate-passed bill authorizing the state to accept a controversial, $6 million-a-year federal early learning grant never got a House vote in May.

But Bedke said the House would take up only vaccine mandates and the Giddings ethics complaint, Russell reported.

Democrats took a dim view of Monday’s news.

“The House only needs to address the ethics complaint against Rep. Giddings, and officially adjourn sine die,” the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said on social media. “Anything beyond that is waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The House’s timetable

House GOP Caucus Chairwoman Megan Blanksma spelled out the timetable in a Monday email to House Republicans.

  • Nov. 10: Lawmakers must file proposed legislation with Bedke by 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 15: The House Ways and Means Committee will meet early in the morning to introduce bills. That’s just the first step in the legislative process, however. All introduced bills will go back to policymaking committees for full hearings — and anything that passes the House would face similar review in the Senate.
  • Nov. 17: A possible end date in the House. “The chairs will be scheduling hearings with a target wrapup date of Nov. 17,” said Blanksma, R-Hammett.
Kevin Richert

About 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 KIVI 6 On Your Side; "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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