Idaho Democrats lose one of two seats on powerful budget-setting committee - East Idaho News

Idaho Democrats lose one of two seats on powerful budget-setting committee

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BOISE (Idaho Capital Sun) — In a historical departure, Idaho House Democrats will have half as many members on the Legislature’s powerful budget-setting committee in the 2023 legislative session, after Republican leadership cut the Democratic seats from two to one.

The House announced its committee assignments during a short floor session Friday morning. The Appropriations committee, which is a joint committee with the Senate called the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, is the only one on the House side that will have just one Democrat instead of two or three. Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise, will be the only Democrat on the committee.

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Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, will be the chairwoman for the House side of the joint committee, while Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, will be chairman for the Senate side. 

Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Moyle, R-Star, said he made the move because Democrats have been overrepresented on the budget committee for years.

“It was time to readjust it,” Moyle said of the committee. “It spends a lot of money, and I didn’t like the fact that the minority party was overrepresented on it, so I fixed it. Overall, they’re still overrepresented if you look at all the committees … so it wasn’t like they were hurt.”

Idaho House Democrats decry JFAC, office changes

House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said her members are extremely unhappy about the change and said it is a departure from decades of practice and norms.

“We made clear that was far and away our top priority to keep our two. Based on proportional representation we were due to have two on JFAC,” Rubel said. “Never in modern times, that we could find, have the Democrats not had proportional representation on JFAC.”

Rubel said her caucus had tentatively scheduled a press conference to discuss the move but decided not to after negotiations Friday morning. There were other grievances as well that Democrats tried to negotiate over, including picking offices based on seniority. The Idaho Capitol has a certain number of private offices that generally go to more senior members, while freshmen and other more junior members typically have cubicles on the ground floor.

Green is due to have her first child in January, when the session begins, and Rubel said the Democratic caucus was unable to secure Green a private office to nurse her baby in during the session. Green said she will take a conference room on the ground floor while other Democrats are in the cubicles.  

Green said she wishes she wasn’t taking away an amenity from her colleagues by occupying a conference room that could be used for other business, but at least it has a door for privacy.

Rubel said that move was also a breakdown in civility, but her caucus cares most about the substance and experience lost on the budget committee.

“They gave us most of what we requested on other committees, but none of that makes up for the loss on JFAC,” Rubel said. “It’s very, very bad. I suppose arguably it could be worse, but it’s almost as bad as it could be.”

The full House Appropriations Committee will include:

  • Chairwoman: Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls
  • Vice chairman: Rep. Steven Miller, R-Fairfield
  • Rep. Matt Bundy, R-Mountain Home
  • Rep. Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg
  • Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby
  • Rep. Clay Handy, R-Burley
  • Rep. Tina Lambert, R-Caldwell
  • Rep. James Petzke, R-Meridian
  • Rep. Josh Tanner, R-Eagle
  • Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise