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Viewpoint: Idaho House leaders lay out 2021 legislative priorities

The balance of power, coronavirus, property taxes, education, and roads are some of the big issues that will come up in the 2021 Idaho Legislative session.

BOISE, Idaho — With 2020 ending, it's time to look ahead to 2021. That goes for our lawmakers, too. They have been busy setting their priorities for the 2021 legislative session.

The session starts on January 11 with Governor Brad Little's third State of the State Address. Expect to hear discussion on coronavirus, property taxes, education, and roads and bridges to name a few.

Republican Speaker of the House Scott Bedke and House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel recently spoke to KTVB to lay out their parties' priorities.

Bedke says one topic that will come up early in the session is the balance of power, specifically the governor's executive power, when it comes to dealing with crises like the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Scott Bedke: "The legislative branch has been largely locked out of all the process that happened this summer. The vast majority of the legislators that I've talked to, both house and senate, feel there needs to be some resetting of that balance of power. Specifically in the area of elections. If we're going to change the method, manner, date of an election, we feel that it should be a product of the legislative process. Now that doesn't lock the governor out of that process. He's an integral part of the legislative process, but the legislature needs to be dealt in instead of dealt out on that kind of thing. Also the state received an unprecedented amount of federal money this year, and the appropriation process is constitutionally vested in the legislative branch, yet we were not around to do that."

Doug Petcash: What are the Democrats' top priorities this legislative session?

Rep. Ilana Rubel: "We've got a long list. Certainly we would like to see some of the education cuts restored. And actually, we have concerns about some of the budget cuts across the board. We had a pretty lean budget already, and when the governor cut it an additional 5% we're really concerned that our agencies are going to be able to do the things that they do, particularly in the area of education where we have educators who have been asked to do more than they've ever been asked to do before in a more dangerous circumstance, and at least at the outset were asked to take pay cuts for that. We need to make sure we are maintaining our school in as good a state as possible. Frankly we probably need to add to it. We're 51st in America in education funding, and we're having a heck of a time recruiting and retaining educators."

Speaker Bedke and Representative Rubel also discuss their other top priorities and what they believe should be done with the projected $630 million budget surplus.

The full interviews air on Viewpoint at 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning on KTVB and on 24/7 starting at 9 a.m.

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