Update from the Idaho Legislative Session

Rep. Megan Blanksma

History was made last week in Boise as the House Republicans voted to remove current Majority Leader Megan Blanksma, from her leadership position. This is the most senior position in the Idaho House of Representatives behind the Speaker of the House, Mike Moyle. It is extremely rare that legislators would vote to remove a member from leadership during the midd

le of a legislative session. For those of you who have been following along, know there has been drama and disagreement that started to boil during the last legislative session that finally reached a tipping point last week.

Rep. Jason Monks

While there has been nothing specific that was pointed as to why the House removed Representative Blanksma from her position, it is thought to be from the schism that is currently taking place over the budget setting process in the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC). Earlier this year, leadership on JFAC and in the House and Senate moved to change the way the committee sets and votes on budgets, focusing more on getting maintenance budgets (bare bones, just keeps the lights on and doors open for all state agencies) set and approved then reviewing new agency spending requests. However, on Feb. 2, a majority of the JFAC committee rebelled against leadership and approved new, standalone budgets that directly flew in the face of what leadership was trying to change. There have been rumors that Representative Blanksma was in the middle of the rebellion that ultimately caused more chaos. She was the only member in House leadership who broke ranks on this new process.

Republican lawmakers in the Idaho House elected Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, as the new majority leader today.


Last fall, JFAC co-chairs, Senator C. Scott Grow and Representative Wendy Horman, announced there would be procedural changes to how budget bills would be heard and voted on in this year’s legislative session. The thought behind this was to make the process more transparent and streamlined so members could spend more time reviewing the agency budget requests and less time listening to budget presentations.

As a result, in January, JFAC set $5.1 billion worth of maintenance budgets from the State’s General Fund, like what we see in Congress with omnibus legislation. The intent now that the State’s maintenance budgets were set, they could go back and look at additional spending requests that were submitted by each agency. However, many members on JFAC are concerned because they don’t feel you can accurately set budgets before other elements of the state’s budgets are discussed and reviewed. This has ultimately led to infighting between members and leadership over the best way to proceed into the future. It is also worth noting, if the legislature sticks with this new process, it will be the first time in almost six decades JFAC rules and procedures change.


Last last week, the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee voted to print Senate Bill 1301. “Printing” a bill is the first step in the Idaho legislative process. To be assigned a bill number, the germane committee needs to agree on whether this legislation is worthy of a full hearing. In this case, they voted unanimously to do so.

If you’ll recall, this is legislation that was worked on by the Idaho State Issues Working Group this year. This is a great first step in the process and we anticipate a full hearing soon.

Posted in Advocacy on the Move, Idaho Advocacy.