The ’24 Legislature, the prelude to elections: It all kicks off Monday

The legislative session — and the election season — starts Monday afternoon.

It all begins at 1 p.m. MST, with Gov. Brad Little’s sixth State of the State address. The speech — delivered before a House chamber packed with lawmakers and elected officials, and televised across the state — will open the Statehouse debate on a variety of education topics.

The debate will continue through a legislative session that’s likely to run until at least late March, and then into the primary and general elections.

Here’s what to look for, and when:

Monday: The State of the State, and the release of Little’s proposed 2024-25 budget, will detail the governor’s agenda for 2024.

Governors don’t like to preempt their own State of the State addresses, and so far, Little has only hinted broadly at education themes. On Thursday, he told reporters he plans to address the state’s school facilities backlog, but he didn’t offer details. He didn’t say whether he would seek additional money for Idaho Launch, but touted the first-year program to help high school grads pay for college or job training.

The public can attend the speech, but seating in the House gallery ls limited. The address also will air on several TV stations, including Idaho Public Television. (After the address, Idaho Education News’ Kevin Richert will offer instant analysis of the speech during a panel discussion.)

Check back at EdNews Monday for full coverage of the address, including budget details, reactions and analysis.

Tuesday: The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will hold its first meeting, and take an initial look at Little’s budget request. It’s JFAC’s first step in the daunting job of writing budget bills for every state agency.

JFAC has retooled its process for 2024 — scaling back agencies’ budget presentations to allow lawmakers more time to write budgets. The committee also hopes to roll out budget bills earlier in the session.

Thursday: The House Education Committee will hold its first meeting, an organizational session. House Ed normally meets in the morning, Monday through Friday.

TBD: The Senate Education Committee will hold its first meeting. Senate Ed normally convenes at 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

The two education committees figure to be the epicenter for hot-button legislation on school choice, school library materials and campus social justice programs.

Jan. 22: JFAC will take up its first education-related budget, for career-technical education.

Feb. 12, 14: JFAC will discuss community college budgets.

Feb. 26, 28: JFAC will discuss college and university budgets.

March 4: Saving its biggest work for last, JFAC takes up the state’s largest budget: K-12 education.

March 4: Legislative candidates can begin filing for office. While official, the filing period might also be somewhat anticlimactic. Many candidates already have announced their election plans — and some candidates have raised tens of thousands of dollars for their campaigns.

March 15: The candidate filing period ends.

March 22: Legislative leaders’ target date for adjournment. Unlike some states, Idaho’s legislative sessions are open-ended — so targets for adjournment often prove to be aspirational.

May 21: However, the primary election is one date set in stone. This year’s GOP primary is shaping up to be another heated battle between the party’s mainstream and hardline factions. And many of the Legislature’s high-profile primaries have education overtones. House Education Chairwoman Julie Yamamoto and Vice Chair Lori McCann already have conservative opponents. Senate Education hardliners Scott Herndon, Brian Lenney and Tammy Nichols already have primary challengers as well.

Nov. 5: The general election. Eventually, all 105 legislative seats will be on the ballot. However, dozens of the races will probably be settled during the primary.

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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