BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho legislative session starts on January 11, 2021, and a focus on interaction between the executive and legislative branches and setting the budget is just some of what is in store.
Democrats wanted to delay the start of the session, but Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said this was unlikely due to the need for 2/3 majority of the legislature in favor. The session will look different than in years prior, or even what we saw in August during the special session.
Bedke says every viable option to conduct the session in a safe manner has been evaluated. Steps include mask recommendations, social distancing and hand washing.
"We made major investments in the technology in the building this summer as well so people can watch and listen," said Bedke.
Legislators can work from home this year, but only to a certain extent.
"They cannot participate and vote from home," said Bedke. "Again, that would make changes in our rules."
As for public comment and testifying, Bedke says it will be a combination of virtual and in-person comments. He also added there will be two, and possibly three, major areas up for discussion. The first is the balance of interaction between the legislative and executive branches, setting the budget, and property taxes.
"There's a whole long list of other things that we will look at, but that will get us started," said Bedke.
In Idaho, bills are not pre-filled, so Bedke says there won't be a list of bills just yet. He wants Idahoans to know he expects there to be bills related to COVID-19 and broadband infrastructure for schools.
"We'll have our missteps and those that will criticize one thing or another, which is always to be expected, but the responsibility that we have all taken an oath to uphold has not changed," Bedke said. "The underlying responsibility has not changed."
Idaho News 6 will continue to have more coverage on what Idahoans can expect in the session and exactly what bills will be on the table for discussion in 2021.