Idaho Republicans oust Speaker Denney; Bedke wins historic race

House Speaker Lawerence Denney was defeated in his 57-member Republican caucus Wednesday night, marking the first time in 30 years that a No. 1 legislative leader was deposed by colleagues.

Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, a quiet but convivial Oakley rancher, capitalized on a caucus wearied by a string of embarrassments and Denney overplaying his hand, most recently his supporting an effort to defeat six GOP lawmakers in the May primary.

Armed with new poll, Otter says Idahoans want education reform

Gov. Butch Otter said Wednesday he will champion restoring pieces of three education laws voters widely rejected last month, after seeing a poll showing Idahoans still back aspects of the reforms.

“We got back some very good numbers that I think we can rely on,” Otter told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho at a Boise meeting that marks the informal annual kickoff of the legislative season.

Former Idaho Controller Donna Jones returns to the hustings at taxpayers conference

Former Idaho lawmaker and Controller Donna Jones made her first major public appearance Wednesday after a May car wreck caused serious injuries that prompted her resignation in October.

Jones, 73, was showered with affection by attendees at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho's annual conference.

"How are you?" said Lt. Gov. Brad Little, one of dozens of well-wishers who bent down to hug the 4-foot-10 Jones before lunch. "It's great to have you here."

1354739560 Former Idaho Controller Donna Jones returns to the hustings at taxpayers conference Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The lunchbucket legislative staff: Idaho relies on a skeleton crew

Only five states have a lower ratio of staff-to-legislator than the Gem State, says Boise State political scientist Gary Moncrief.

"The Idaho taxpayer gets great value out of the Idaho legislative staff," Moncrief told freshmen lawmakers Monday during their opening day of orientation. "It's J.C. Penny, not Nordstrom."

Idaho's 105-member Legislature has 81 full-time staff, or 0.8 staff per legislator.

The top three states? California with a staff-to-lawmaker ratio of 17-1, New York at 12-1, and Texas at 11-1.

The national average is 3.8-1.

Age discrimination? Energy bars for Idaho House newbies, fiber bars for oldsters

Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, is using a tried-and-true campaign tactic: feed the voters.

Like my daughter who gave out suckers with special labels to get elected 7th-grade class president, Perry passed out Clif Bars attached to her campaign post card to freshmen lawmakers at orientation this week.

Perry is running for House GOP caucus chair, in an election to be decided tonight at Crane Creek Country Club during a closed-door dinner by secret ballot of the 57 House Republicans.

Former Idaho Rep. Roberts to new lawmakers: You only have so many bullets, use them wisely

Former Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, was appointed by Gov. Butch Otter to the Idaho State Tax Commission in August, but was back at the Statehouse Tuesday morning to brief new lawmakers about the tax structure.

After winding through income, sales and property taxes, the former GOP caucus chairman and 12-year lawmaker offered advice to the newcomers during the second of three days of orientation.

"Trust, or the lack thereof, will follow you all the days of your legislative career, either long or short-lived," Roberts said.

1354646341 Former Idaho Rep. Roberts to new lawmakers: You only have so many bullets, use them wisely Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Idaho Sen. Werk will conduct last tune at Thursday's Winter Concert at South Junior High

Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, may wear his tails and a wig as he conducts "All I Want for Christmas is You," Thursday at the South Auditorium.

The hour-long free concert begins at 7 p.m. at 3101 W. Cassia Street in Boise.

I asked Werk, who is balding, whether he might wear a wig fashioned after famed conductor Arturo Toscanini. Said Werk: "I’m considering wearing my tails as would befit the occasion! And I’ll always consider wearing a wig!"

1354635430 Idaho Sen. Werk will conduct last tune at Thursday's Winter Concert at South Junior High Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Speaker Denney warns new Idaho lawmakers: Don't embarrass us with a DUI or other misstep

The ghost of former Senate Majority Caucus Chairman John McGee appeared Monday on the first day of orientation for new lawmakers. McGee, who resigned last year after a 2011 DUI and a 2012 sexual harassment case, wasn't mentioned by name, but his spirit was in the room.

At the luncheon that opened three days of training for 44 new Idaho lawmakers, House Speaker Lawerence Denney urged the group to be mindful of the scrutiny they'll draw as elected officials.

1354572944 Speaker Denney warns new Idaho lawmakers: Don't embarrass us with a DUI or other misstep Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sausage-making 101: New Idaho lawmakers convene today at Capitol for orientation

The heavy turnover in a post-redistricting election means 44 of 105 Idaho legislators qualify as "new," according to the count of the Legislative Services Office.

Of those are 13 new senators and 31 new representatives. The count includes nine House veterans moving to the Senate, as well as three lawmakers appointed to serve in the 2012 session and one appointed in August.

The group begins three days of meetings at noon Monday with a lunch hosted by Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale.

Losing Idaho candidate gets good post-election news about a more significant faceoff: His novel on Waterloo is out

James Mace's seventh book, "I Stood With Wellington" is now available, Mace announced on Facebook Friday morning.

Mace tells the story of British Capt. James Henry Webster, a company commander in the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards.

1354298376 Losing Idaho candidate gets good post-election news about a more significant faceoff: His novel on Waterloo is out Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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