BOISE, Idaho — After a historic 18-day recess, lawmakers are back inside the Statehouse Tuesday morning as the 2021 Legislative Session continues. The House and the Senate recessed on March 19 after six house members tested positive for COVID-19.
Nothing changed during the recess, the session was only put on pause. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Scott Bedke says they will concentrate on what’s already in the pipeline rather than introducing a handful of new bills.
House Minority Leader, Ilana Rubel hopes the focus surrounds bills on topics like full-day kindergarten and saving the lottery as well as budgets that need to be passed in order for the session to end.
“Given how late we are in the session, almost everything has to get done. If we were to adjourn right now, there would be no schools, no universities, no health care systems, no nothing. So, a lot of very important appropriations need to get passed. We still have to fund the attorney general's office, the K-12 budget, the higher education budget and I believe the Medicaid budget so, we have a lot of big budgets left ahead of us,” Rubel said.
Bedke says his priorities through the end of the session will be surrounding a transportation package, income tax cuts and rebates for Idahoans, and even further discussion on limiting the governor’s authority during emergencies.
“No one has changed these laws of how we deal with an emergency for 60 years and it's high time that we do that. We learned some things last summer. I think that all agree we need to have a legitimate conversation on several areas. We learned some things and will apply that learning in some bills that are coming forward.”
Bedke also added they are optimistic about the session potentially ending in roughly two weeks.
“We're very optimistic that it will be a little around two weeks. Maybe give or take a day or two, but that is certainly our goal. We intend to, if the circumstances are right, to work on Saturday and to see this session drawn to a close,” Bedke said.
#BREAKING The Senate will also recess along with the House. The Legislature will recess until April 6th at noon.— Nicole Camarda (@CamardaNicole) March 19, 2021