More than 20 seats changed hands in the Idaho Legislature Tuesday. Some House members made the jump to the Senate. And plenty of new faces will be in the legislature when the session starts in January.
Boise State political science professor Gary Moncrief says, despite the changes, the makeup of the House and the Senate will be pretty much the same.
"It’s often the case after redistricting that you’ll see some movement, one way or the other, in terms of a partisan shift and there’s absolutely none in Idaho this year," explains Moncrief. "I guess that means the redistricting turned out to be fairly neutral. The other thing I’d mention is that while the numbers are the same in terms of the partisan distribution, the people are not the same. There’s going to be a fairly significant number of freshmen in the House and there’s going to be seven or eight people who were in the House who are moving up to the Senate this time. So there is going to be some personnel changes, but the partisan distribution remains the same."
Q. What do those personnel changes mean for the Idaho House and Senate? The House is usually more conservative. The Senate is usually more moderately Republican. Will that change now?
A. I’m not sure what it means on the House side at this point, just because these are freshmen and I honestly don’t know a whole lot about them at this point. I don’t see that it could be any more conservative than it was, so it might moderate a little bit, I don’t think a lot, but a little bit. The Senate is likely to become a bit more conservative than it was. Just how all that plays out depends in part on leadership as well and how those leadership contests in the House turnout and that remains to be seen, that won’t really be decided until four weeks or so from now.
Q. What’s the next step for the new Legislature, what issues will be on their plate in the new year?
A. They’re going to have to address several things. One of them is the health care insurance exchange. They’re approach last year was basically hope it goes away, that is, hope we get a Republican President, a Republican House, a Republican Senate, they can somehow repeal and we don’t have to deal with this at all, kind of the ostrich approach to this. Obviously now they have to deal with it. It’s kind of late in the game to be dealing with some of this, but that’s got to be on the forefront. It’s possible the Governor can go ahead without them at this point, he has some executive authority to start setting up the health exchange, but I’m sure there has to be some legislation to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.
There’s a lot of talk about some changes to the tax structure, particularly in regard to the personal property tax, the business tax, so I think that’s one of the things that’s going to be on the agenda.
I assume they’re going to hold a conversation, hopefully a more open conversation, about education and what needs to be done. Because clearly Propositions 1, 2, and 3 all got slammed pretty hard but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a reason to think seriously about changes in education, not just here, but in all states at this point.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio