Idaho Falls Republican Sen. Dean Mortimer was appointed chairman of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
Mortimer, who works as a contractor and builder in Eastern Idaho, is the longest serving member of the committee and previously held the post of vice chairman.
“I’m honored by the opportunity to serve as education chairman, and it is a significant responsibility,” Mortimer said. “There are myriad stakeholders that have significant interest in the bettering of our education system, and it’s going to be a significant responsibility to coordinate those groups and try and create positive outcomes.”
Mortimer will be charged with steering the nine-member committee through a transitional period. Three Republican veterans of the committee – Sens. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth and immediate past Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene – are not returning to the Legislature.
In their place, Senate leaders appointed two legislative rookies. Sens. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene and Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, joined the committee, along with veteran Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint.
“There are new committee members, a new state superintendent and a new direction for education with the 20 recommendations from the governor’s task force, and all of those things are going to come into play and have a significant effect on outcomes,” Mortimer said. “It’s a huge task ahead of us.”
Democratic Sens. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Janie Ward-Engelking, both D-Boise, return to the Senate Education Committee.
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Mortimer will also keep his seat on the budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
Across the rotunda, House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, will continue to lead that committee, although changes are coming there as well.
Veteran House Education Committee members Wendy Horman and Linden Bateman, both R-Idaho Falls, and Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, are leaving the committee.
Rookie Rep. Ryan Kerby, who will soon retire from serving as superintendent of the New Plymouth School District, will fill one of the spots while Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, will take another.
The House Education Committee will operate with 15 members instead of 16.
Democratic Reps. Donna Pence, D- Gooding, and Hy Kloc and Ilana Rubel, both D-Boise, return to the committee.
Horman is joining the powerful budget-setting committee, JFAC, and said she hope to take a lead role in carrying the K-12 school budget.