Legislative strategy emerging for Otter's bid for Idaho-run insurance exchange; Bedke offers some running room

Immediately after his election last week, House Speaker Scott Bedke said he would resist appointing lopsided committees advancing his agenda.

“When you have regional balance, when you avoid the appearance of a stacked committee, then things go a lot better,” said Bedke, R-Oakley.

But Bedke’s handling of the House Health & Welfare Committee suggests an exception to his rule. At minimum, he’s populated the panel with enough open minds to give Gov. Butch Otter a chance to get a state-run insurance exchange through the 2013 Legislature.

1355503679 Legislative strategy emerging for Otter's bid for Idaho-run insurance exchange; Bedke offers some running room Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Foes of Otter-backed Idaho health exchange to protest on Capitol steps Thursday

UPDATED, 3:15 p.m. with comment from Idaho Liberty Caucus Secretary Jason Robinson.

Sixteen hours after Gov. Butch Otter said a state-run insurance exchange was the best option for Idaho, opponents announced they will rally in protest at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the Capitol steps.

Campaigns on Idaho Props 1, 2 & 3 raised $6.4 million

Opponents of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 raised $3.6 million in their successful effort to repeal the laws in the Nov. 6 election. Opponents spent $2.8 million. The great bulk of the money was spent on advertising.

The total spending of $6.4 million tops the $3.967 million spent in the 1986 referendum campaign that affirmed passage of right-to-work. But adjusted for inflation, those 1986 dollars are equal to $8.4 million in 2012 dollars. In short, the 2012 campaign cost 76 percent of what the 1986 race cost in real dollars.

A la Grateful Dead's 'From the Vault,' gems from last week's orientation for Idaho frosh lawmakers

Last week's doings made for the most eventful biennial organization week since I began covering the Idaho Legislature in 1987. A record-setting freshman class, the historic ouster of a sitting House speaker and reshuffled committees. I wrote a ton, but left some good stuff in my notebooks.

I'll keep looking, but the first scene I'd like to replay comes from Monday's self-introductions by the 44 new lawmakers, 31 in the House and 13 in the Senate, which almost seemed like an inaugural fraternity-sorority get-together.

1355248875 A la Grateful Dead's 'From the Vault,' gems from last week's orientation for Idaho frosh lawmakers Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Spinning off Popkey theory on defeat of Luna Laws, Idaho Statesman reader creates 'Sugar City Mom Index'

It's not often science says I got something right. But my instinct that voters who ordinarily are reliably conservative and Republican would determine the outcome of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 appears to have a basis in reality.

Andy Brunelle, who works for the U.S. Forest Service and was an aide to former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus, attended a post-election forum where I argued the hypothetical "Sugar City mom" I spoke of during the campaign had defected from her voting habits and helped kill all three propositions.

1355248766 Spinning off Popkey theory on defeat of Luna Laws, Idaho Statesman reader creates 'Sugar City Mom Index' Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Byron Johnson dead at 75

Justice Byron Johnson, a singular character in Idaho public life, died Sunday at his home in Boise's Collister neighborhood.

Johnson was a baseball star at Boise High School, once striking out future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. He went on to Harvard and the practice of law, retiring from the court after 11 years in 1999. He also was a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1972.

Johnson quit wearing ties in court, wrote poetry, climbed mountains and was a part of the unusual culture of Idaho City, where he lived for many years with his wife, Judge Patricia Young.

Idaho House completes committee assignments, 50% turnover in chairmanships

The House completed its organizational business just before noon Friday, including new chairmen on seven of 14 committees.

The new committee leaders are: Business, Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; Commerce & Human Resources, Rep. Steve Hartgen, R-Twin Falls; Education, Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle; Health & Welfare, Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley; Resources & Conservation, Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale; Revenue & Taxation, Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa; Ways & Means, Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake.

The full slate follows:

Appropriations

Idaho Senate makes committee assignments, House to follow soon

The Senate completed its organizational session Thursday afternoon and announced committee assignments. The new chairs are Agriculture, led by Sen. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot; Commerce & Human Resources, Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier; Health & Welfare, Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls; Judiciary & Rules, Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston; Local Government and Taxation, Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton; and Transportation, Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson.

New Idaho Speaker Bedke has conciliatory words, suggests chairmanship for Denney

Newly elected Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke said he doesn't plan to remove any incumbent committee chairmen and that he's considering asking former Speaker Lawerence Denney to lead a committee.

"I'm not anticipating making any changes," said Bedke, R-Oakley, shortly after Denney swore him in as his successor Thursday morning. Bedke said he will try to reshuffle schedules to allow every member to have a morning committee and rely heavily on a record-breaking freshman class.

Denney gracefully transfers power to Bedke in Idaho House

House Speaker Lawerence Denney convened the House one last time Thursday morning, then handled the gavel he’s wielded for six years to the man who made history in replacing him.

Scott Bedke, a seven-term Republican from Oakley, defeated Denney, R-Midvale, Wednesday night in a secret-ballot closed-door caucus.

Denney worked the House through its first 15 minutes of business.

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