BOISE -- The 2013 legislative session is officially in the books.
After passing the public schools budget and taking care of a few other pieces of business, the Idaho Legislature ended the session.
It was a new-look Idaho Legislature this year, with a lot of freshman lawmakers.
We weren't sure what to expect from them but we did expect them to tackle certain issues, and they did, changing the way the state handles education, taxes, healthcare, and more.
There were a lot of happy faces Thursday at the Statehouse as Idaho lawmakers finally adjourned, following a week delay from a surprise vote last week. Looking back, we weren't sure what to expect from all the freshman lawmakers this session, but new Speaker of the House Scott Bedke says he's proud of the job they did.
That's the highlight as far as I'm concerned for the session is all of the new faces, new personalities, new ideas, said Bedke.
Some things we could expect were the issues they had to tackle.
The Affordable Care Act mandated lawmakers decide whether to create a state health insurance exchange or let the feds create one for them.
A majority of the Republican-dominated Legislature put their personal feelings on the president's healthcare overhaul aside and voted to create a state-run exchange.
We're a pretty pragmatic bunch, pretty practical bunch, we Idahoans, said Bedke.
Democrats applauded the decision and say overall they're pleased that Republicans were a lot more willing to meet them in the middle.
We'd like to thank them for their friendship and collegiality as we found new allies for reasonable moderate solutions to our common challenges, said Democratic Minority Leader John Rusche.
Another decision left to the states from the Affordable Care Act was whether to expand Medicaid. That didn't happen this year, but we could see it in 2014.
A priority for Gov. Butch Otter was to repeal the personal property tax. Lawmakers approved a partial repeal of the tax, which the governor called a good start.
I think that what we came up with is affordable and it gives us a path forward for our eventual goal of relieving personal property tax on business in the state of Idaho, said Otter.
The new law exempts businesses' first $100,000 worth of personal property from taxation, and the state replaces the lost revenue for local governments.
We knew education would be a big issue again.
On the heels of the November defeats of the Students Come First laws, some elements of those laws were brought back. That includes the final bill which was approved by the House late Thursday morning. It gives school districts power to cut teacher salaries and contracts.
Lawmakers were in session for 88 days, which is just a week longer than last year, but nowhere near the record 117-day session of 2009.
So what's next?
Lawmakers will meet in interim study committees between now and the next legislative session.
Among many things, they'll look at the criminal justice system, management of federal lands, and the public school system.