Gary Moncrief

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

It’s been a tumultuous first two weeks in the Idaho Legislature. It started last week when Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke removed Republican Representative Heather Scott from her committee assignments for comments she made about her colleagues.

The move came after Scott was accused of telling another lawmaker that women in the House trade sexual favors with leadership to secure committee chairmanships. That’s when Representative Christy Perry of Nampa wrote a letter to the Speaker saying Scott displayed aggressive and anti-social behavior during meetings.

Samantha Wright/BSPR

The Idaho Legislature has been in session less than a week and lawmakers are already speculating about when they will go home.

Boise State University Professor of Political Science Gary Moncrief says there has been a lot of talk about how long the session will last. He says he’s heard from the media and some lawmakers that it should be a short session.

But in this week’s 2017 Weekly Legislative Update, Moncrief says history doesn’t support that theory.

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Gary Moncrief

It’s a new year for Republicans who now control government at the national level. And also for the 2017 Idaho Legislature, which leans even more toward the GOP after losing four Democratic seats in the fall elections. That means change in Washington D.C. and in the Gem State.

Today, we bring you our first 2017 Weekly Legislative Update. We’ll be taking a close look at what happens in the Idaho Statehouse, both in the public eye and behind the scenes.

Jeff Youngstrom / Flickr

In the span of a week, lawmakers in the Idaho House voted to ban cities and counties from banning plastic grocery bags and took up a bill that could ban cities from increasing the minimum wage.

That’s after Hailey residents voted five years ago on a bag ban, and McCall residents voted last year on a higher minimum wage.

Supporters of both pieces of legislation say they're business friendly bills that would keep laws the same across the state.

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. 

Idaho Capitol, statehouse
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The 2014 Idaho Legislature kicks off Monday with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter’s annual State of the State speech. 

Lawmakers will look at a variety of issues this year, from the budget to education, all through the lens of primary elections, which come up in May.

Boise State University Political Science professor Gary Moncrief says lawmakers will look closely at a couple of issues: healthcare and education.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State political science professor Gary Moncrief calls what happened Wednesday in the Idaho Senate extraordinary. A plan approved by the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, known as JFAC, died on a 17 to 18 vote.

“Usually, in fact almost always what goes to the floor from JFAC is accepted on the floor,” Moncrief says.

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.