BOISE -- It is a new day in the Idaho Legislature. After a history-making vote Wednesday night, a sitting speaker of the House failed to retain his position. KTVB political analysts say that could be totally unprecedented. Thursday morning, the new speaker officially took the gavel.
The day started with the soon-to-be former Speaker Lawerence Denney (R-Midvale) calling the House to order. Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) was officially nominated as the new speaker of the House. When Denney asked that all those in favor say aye, and the ayes rang out, he joked, "I shouldn't have done that."
Bedke was then sworn in by the man who he beat for the position. Denney handed over the gavel and microphone, and took a seat.
But just a few minutes later, House Minority Leader John Rusche (D-Lewiston) had an announcement. "I'd like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and my caucus to offer my respects and thanks to the former speaker." Every member of the House then gave the out-going speaker a half-minute-long standing ovation.
Meanwhile, Bedke now becomes one of the most powerful people at the Statehouse, directing legislation and his own party's massive majority in the House. He says he's humbled by his election. "I obviously sought this job out. I'm confident that I can do a good job, mostly because we're surrounded by good people."
Bedke said his election might have been the result of what he would bring to the position, and what his fellow Republicans didn't like about Denney's leadership style. That style sometimes involved removing representatives from committee chairs when they didn't vote the way he wanted. But Bedke said ideologically there won't be much of a change in the House. "I don't think that we're going to see a major turn in the politics of the House of Representatives of Idaho. These are people that are Idahoans that are elected by Idahoans, and Idahoans tend to be fairly conservative."
Right now, Bedke and other leaders are sorting out who will serve on what committees, and who the chairs will be. Bedke says he'll need experienced representatives like Denney to hold those spots, with 40 percent turnover in the House. We haven't heard definitively who will chair what yet.
The full legislative session begins January 7th.