Printed on: December 06, 2012

44 new lawmakers head to Boise for assignments

By Clark Corbin

Newly elected Idaho Falls lawmakers Wendy Horman and Janet Trujillo are about to find out what roles they will play in the Idaho Legislature.

Thanks in part to the redistricting process following the 2010 census, Republicans Horman and Trujillo are joining a Legislature that includes 44 rookies.

Today and Friday, all 105 lawmakers will find out their committee assignments, a process political observers said is important because committees give lawmakers areas of policy to hone in on.

Jim Weatherby, professor emeritus of political science at Boise State University, said this week's organizational session will help shape the legislative session that opens in January.

"Typically, there is a significant amount of turnover even from session to session, but I think this is one of the most significant we've had in a number of years," he said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of impact all of these new members will make within the House."

The six new eastern Idaho Republican lawmakers reporting for duty in Boise include:

Trujillo, who won the seat vacated when Rep. Jeff Thompson was pulled into another Idaho Falls district.

Horman, who won the seat vacated by former Rep. Erik Simpson.

Neil Anderson, who won the Bingham County seat vacated by retired Rep. Dennis Lake.

Julie Van Orden, who defeated incumbent Rep. Jim Marriott in the May primary election in Bingham County.

Doug Hancey, who won the Madison County seat vacated by retired Rep. Mack Shirley.

Paul Romrell, who won the District 35 seat vacated when Rep. Lenore Barrett was pulled into District 8.

Last week, Horman, a school board member for Bonneville Joint School District 93, said she was looking forward to meeting the rest of the state's lawmakers and learning her committees.

Within the House, there are committees dealing with revenue and tax policy issues, education, budget, health and welfare and other areas.

"Since I have a background in education, I am hoping for an assignment there," Horman said. "I think there are some immediate bridges that need to be built in the gap there that now exists with the repeal of those (Students Come First) laws," Horman said.

Trujillo, a certified tax appraiser who works for Bonneville County, said she hopes to put her professional experience to work by helping shape the state's tax policy.

"My No. 1 is the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, that's my No. 1 committee where I think my voice can be heard," she said. "I'm very excited, and yes, I feel like I am ready to serve."

Weatherby said the Revenue and Taxation Committee will be one of the groups to watch this year for two reasons.

First, there has been a considerable amount of pre-session hype about a move to repeal or phase out the state's personal property tax. All tax issues, by rule, must originate and clear the House Revenue and Taxation Committee before advancing anywhere.

Second, Lake, the committee's previous chairman, retired earlier this year, leaving leadership of that influential committee to be decided by House leaders today.

"It will be a new challenge for whoever is selected (as chairman) to take on one of the major issues of the session in the repeal of the personal property tax," Weatherby said. "It is clear (the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry lobbying organization) and other groups are going to take this on as their No. 1 priority."