BOISE -- Lawmakers convened for the state's 62nd legislative session Monday at the Idaho Statehouse.
While several inches of freshly fallen snow lined the streets outside, a number of fresh faces trooped into the state's legislative chambers. They were joined by a cadre of well-known politicians returning for yet another season of public service.
The senate convened shortly after 12 p.m. House members waited until just after 12:30 to bang the gavel.
Many of Monday's events followed a long tradition of decorum and symbolism. Chief among these was Governor Otter's State of the State Address.
And while Otter made clear his 2013 priorities, we felt it both interesting and newsworthy to ask for the goals and concerns of other lawmakers.
That's why we submitted the following questions via email to all members of the 2013 Idaho Legislature.
1. What is your personal goal for the 2013 session?
2. What are your top concerns?
We hope to keep a running tally of those who submit a reply.
Neil A. Anderson, District 31A, Republican
My intent as a new legislator is to provide good governance to our state, to justify the faith that my constituents have placed in me and to add value to the legislative body of which I am a member. The potential legislative issues are numerous. It remains to be seen how effectively they can be addressed but I believe we have a capable citizen legislature and well intentioned state officers. I am optimistic we can provide the insightful decisions needed for our collective betterment. Thanks for asking.
Robert Anderst, District 12A, Republican
Top priority is to help grow Idaho's Economy. Top concerns are the impact of the Federal Government on our ability to grow as a State.
Vito Barbieri, District 2A, Republican
I have two primary goals at this time.
1. To secure taxpayer vote prior to the formation of a Local Improvement District by Idaho Taxing Districts
2.To establish a Tax Credit Scholarship program wherein tax dollars can be directed by taxpayers to scholarship programs to help those genuinely interested in parental freedom of choice of schools for their children. My primary concerns revolve around the continued usurpation of State authority by the federal government: I am convinced that the most important issue remains stopping ObamaCare in the form of a State Insurance Exchange. The State Exchange does nothing to assure a less expensive health care system, nor increase accessibility of health care. A new issue has now sprung up regarding federal gun control. The federal government should take no action on this issue. Thank you for the opportunity to share with you these important concerns.
Darrell Bolz, District 10B, Republican
My personal goal is to study the issues looking at all sides, listening to constituents, and then making the best possible decision based on the facts. My top concerns include the following: funding education, personal property tax, health care, and the budget.
Grant Burgoyne, District 16A Democrat
What is your personal goal for the 2013 session? To improve the economy in the Treasure Valley and the rest of the state. For over 30 years we have been losing businesses and good paying jobs and replacing them with jobs which pay less. This has driven personal income in Idaho down so far that Idaho is now 50th in the nation and can no longer afford to provide its children the kind of education they need to succeed in the 21st Century. Our per pupil expenditures are also 50th in the nation and the only way to turn that around is to grow the economy.
What are your top concerns? The economy and education.
Lance W. Clow, District 24A, Republican
Goal: Listen and learn, while representing my district with the personal values that they expect of me.
Concerns: Addressing Education Reform while respecting the referendum on Propositions 1,2 and 3. Build a strong economy that will attract quality career opportunities to Idaho, while enabling Idaho s existing business and industry to thrive.
John L. Gannon, District 17A,
I want to promote policies and legislation which produce quality jobs and a strong economy. Good jobs enable people to buy cars, pay their mortgages or rent, and increase tax revenue for our State and the programs many of us support. Attracting good jobs requires a strong system of education and wise tax policies.
Frank Henderson, District 5B, Republican
My primary goal is to effectively manage the Business Committee to achieve the economic development goals described in the State of the State address. The Business Committee is composed of experienced business and legislative persons who share desires abilities to enable job creation by eliminating regulatory problems and providing corporate incentives for expanding production facilities and providing new employment opportunities.
The problem we must avoid is to expend a predominance of effort on recruiting new companies while not doing enough to aid existing Idaho employers. Short term I believe our greatest economic development opportunity is in our own back yard. If we can assist Idaho companies in expansion of domestic markets and their export opportunities we will see early results.
Clark Kauffman, District 25B, Republican
Personal goal for this session is to learn as much as I can and contribute when I am able. Top concerns are to be able to build consensus on difficult issues.
Phylis King, District 18B, Democrat
My personal goal and my top concerns for the 2013 session? The broad answer is to do what is best for Idaho citizens. The big issues: education I support technology in the classroom but as we grow and change how we deliver education to our children in Idaho, we need to have a conversation with teachers, parents, students, school boards, superintendents about what is the best for children. We need to move forward with researched based information about how students learn. I also recognize that one size does not fit all and not all communities have the ability to invest in education. We need to have an equalizing formula to serve low income and rural schools . Personal property tax. I would like to repeal the PPT but somehow we need to back fill the loss of revenue of $141 million. I do NOT want to see a tax shift from businesses to homeowners. I DO want to see the cities and counties continue to provide the much needed services that citizens rely on for a prosperous community. Health care. I believe that a state run exchange would be more responsive to an Idaho population. I also believe that the Medicaid expansion will provide health care for 150,000 of our uninsured. Covering all Idahoans with health care will save us all in the long run.
Luke Malek, District 4A, Republican
What is your personal goal for the 2013 session? As a new member of the House of Representatives, my personal goals are to become as educated as I can on both procedure and issues by learning from members with more experience, and by listening to the concerns of my constituents.
What are your top concerns? My top concerns revolve around making informed decisions on healthcare that will benefit the citizens of Idaho and preserve State autonomy. And recently, I have become extremely concerned with misinformed, reactionary calls for federal action in regards to Constitutional individual rights to bear arms. Idaho may have to be very proactive in bucking this trend.
Shirley Ringo, District 5B, Democrat
My personal goal is to get action to assure that Idahoans have access to top-notch state services by focusing on issues related to recruiting and retaining well-qualified employees. In addition to that, my top concerns relate to thoughtful updates in public education with appropriate revenues, improving access to healthcare, and reasonable tax policy.
Elaine Smith, District 29B, Democrat
My personal goal is to listen to the Idaho citizens with their concerns. As legislators we need to equip Idaho s families and communities for future prosperity.
Issues will be redesign of education and the funding, health insurance exchange, and personal
Janet Trujillo, District 33A, Republican
My goal for this session is to represent my constituents to the best of my ability. As a freshman I plan to make the most of the session getting informed and up to speed on my legislative duties. Top concerns: Personal Property Tax, Healthcare Exchange, Education.
Rick Youngblood, District 12B, Republican
As you know I am a Freshman legislator and as such have lots to ponder in regards to your first question. Having decided to run and honestly having no agenda and little familiarity with our legislative process my first order of business has been to read and learn all I can. Fortunately we were given an orientation the first three days of December and this helped considerably. Going forward my sincere desire is to faithfully represent my constituents to the best of my abilities. To always be a good listener, and to respond as often as I can to their interests and concerns. One of my favorite western sayings is, never miss a chance to shut-up. I always seem to learn more the less I talk. My personal concerns for this coming year are to do all I can to promote and create Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
John Goedde, District 4, Republican
My personal goal is to move student education improvement forward with as much consensus as possible. Challenges include balancing a budget to a largely stagnant revenue stream, resolving the education funding dilemma created by the repeal of education reform, and finding a path forward on health exchanges and Medicaid expansion.
Jim Patrick, District 25, Republican
My goal for this session is to keep a job friendly atmosphere. I believe the personal property tax needs to be eliminated but with some protection for the local governments. There are several ideas how to reduce the local burden but i believe reduced unfunded mandates as well as some replacement money from the state are needed. I also believe we will propose some fix for the legislation dealing with union negotiation rights. Open meetings, salary and benefits only on the negotiation table. My biggest concern is the time to complete the many issues with the large change in the legislature. I just hope we will be finished by April 1.
Steven Thayn, District 8, Republican
My top goal is to increase educational choice. I would like to see the Dual Credit for Early Completers put back into law. This will help families control the cost of college education.
Top concerns are medical costs and actually addressing this issue in a proactive way. I would like to see a limit placed upon Medicaid spending as a percent of the state general fund so as to protect public education funding.