Election Year Could Cut Short Idaho's Legislative Session

Jan 13, 2014

The Idaho Statehouse
Credit Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The 2014 Idaho legislative session started just last week, but there are already people watching the calendar to see when lawmakers will go home. That matters to taxpayers because each day of the session costs roughly $30,000. 

Lawmakers aren't just thinking about the money, but they're gearing up for the primary election this May. 

Sometimes there’s a specific issue that can lengthen a legislative session, like money, or the lack thereof.  But this year, lawmakers aren't expected to draw out the session over budget wrangling. If history is any indicator, that means something else will affect how long legislators stay in Boise.

Gary Moncrief is a Political Science Professor at Boise State University. He’s been crunching some numbers on the length of sessions since 2000. “In odd-year sessions, when there’s not an election, the average session runs 94 days," says Moncrief. "In even-year sessions, that is in an election year, the session runs 80 days, so basically, two weeks less.”

Credit Samantha Wright and Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Moncrief says the dates to watch this year are March 3 through 14.  That’s the window lawmakers have to file for May's primary election. “Once we hit the Ides of March, it’s on, in terms of who’s running against whom and people are going to be particularly anxious, I think, to shut the session down and get home for the campaign,” Moncrief says.

He predicts the legislative session could end on March 28, which is a Friday, and would be very close to 80 days. Although, Moncrief wouldn’t be surprised if the session is even shorter.

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