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Viewpoint: Idaho House leaders layout 2021 legislative priorities

The balance of power, COVID-19, property taxes, education and roads and bridges 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 Idaho's lawmakers, too.

They have been busy setting their priorities for the 2021 legislative session.

The session starts on Jan. 11 with Gov. Brad Little's third State of the State Address.

In 2021, Idahoans can expect to hear discussion on coronavirus, property taxes, education and roads and bridges among other issues.

On this week's Viewpoint, Republican Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) and House Minority Leader Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) layout their parties' priorities.

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

You can watch the full interviews on Viewpoint every Sunday morning at 6:30 on KTVB. It also airs several times after that on 24/7 with the first airing at 9 o'clock.

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