Being an Idaho legislator is not a full-time job: it’s more than that. This Idaho Legislature convened Jan. 7 and adjourned sine die on April 11. The session lasted 95 days -- the third longest session in history. But, that was only part of our job working for the people of this state.
What happens after sine die? While some of us are retired, many of us have a day job we return to, but that doesn’t mean our legislative work stops. We take the wheat tours and the mine tours, the Medicaid expansion meetings and the Education Task Force meetings. We have conversations about water challenges, early childhood exchanges, and Supreme Court rulings. But, most of all, we like to hear from you. Following the session, we have more opportunities to listen to your thoughts, ideas, and views through town halls and face-to-face conversations. It’s important that we stay attuned to the plethora of issues that face our communities, our businesses, our families, and our state. We will never be experts in everything, but we do surround ourselves with those who are, and they help us understand what makes Idaho the best state to raise our children and grandchildren.
A great example of all that happened last month in Twin Falls, when we hosted a town hall with our house majority leaders. More than 130 people attended the event. We fielded questions about new laws, fewer regulations, education, transportation, and health care. We also shared our goals for next session, and had great one-on-one conversations with dozens of our constituents. Nights like that keep us connected with our bosses: you.
We are not off, in the offseason. We will give, on average, two dozen legislative updates, join rural fire and rangeland tours, and participate in events like the Energy Academy and Young Women’s Leadership. We will work with groups to protect our most vulnerable and disabled. We will make hundreds of phone calls on issues from water and education to red lights, transportation, and property taxes. The people’s work never truly stops.
During this time, we will spend countless hours researching specific issues like vaccinations and economic development. How do we balance urban growth against our rural values? How do we compare our rural school districts with our larger districts? What will transportation and infrastructure needs look like in another decade? How does Medicaid Expansion affect our counties? We try to answer these questions outside the session, where we can collaborate and cooperate, identify what works, and navigate a way forward. This is the time where we can best solve an issue locally if possible, look at the ramifications of state-wide legislation if routed, bring affected parties to the table, and come up with Idaho solutions.
We really are not much different than all of you. We just have a second job that doesn’t end. In this democratic republic, we are elected by you to uphold the Constitution. We listen, we collaborate, we communicate, and we cooperate. Together, we are committed to stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger Idaho. We are your voice. Being an Idaho legislator is not a full-time job; it’s a 24/7 job, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.