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Idaho State Legislature

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Idaho State Legislature

Seal of Idaho.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 12, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Brad Little (R)
House Speaker:  Scott Bedke (R)
Majority Leader:   Bart Davis (R) (Senate),
Mike Moyle (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Michelle Stennett (D) (Senate),
John Rusche (D) (House)
Members:  35 (Senate), 70 (House)
Length of term:   2 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art IV, Idaho Constitution
Salary:   $16,116/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
35 seats (Senate)
70 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
35 seats (Senate)
70 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Idaho Redistricting Commission has control
The Idaho State Legislature is the state legislature of Idaho. It consists of the upper Idaho State Senate and the lower Idaho House of Representatives. The Idaho Senate contains 35 Senators, who are elected from 35 districts. The Idaho House of Representatives consists of 70 Representatives, who are elected from the same 35 districts, with 2 being elected from each constituency.

The crossing of upper and lower house districts into a single constituency is found in only seven U.S. state legislatures: Idaho, Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington. As of 2000, each legislative district in the state of Idaho had approximately 37,000 residents.

The Idaho State Capitol, where the legislature meets, is based in Boise. The historical building was renovated between April 2007 and November 2010.

As of March 2015, Idaho is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Idaho House of Representatives, Idaho State Senate, Idaho Governor


Article III of the Idaho Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session; section 8 of Article III allows the Legislature to change the starting date by law. According to 67-404 Idaho Code, the Idaho Legislature convenes annually at 12:00 noon on the Monday closest to the 9th of January. Section 8 also states that the Governor of Idaho can convene special sessions of the Legislature at any time.[1][2]

The Idaho Legislature normally convenes at the Idaho State Capitol in downtown Boise.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature is in session from January 12 through early April.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2015 legislative session include increased education funding, infrastructure improvements, tax reductions, government transparency and additions to the state's Human Rights Act.[3]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 6 through March 21.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included $350 million worth of educational improvements, the state-based health insurance exchange passed in 2013 and prison reforms.[4]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to April 4.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included the creation of a state-controlled health exchange, school reform, business tax breaks and ethics rules.[5]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from January 9 through March 29.

Major issues

Legislators considered setting up a state-based health care exchange as required under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Conservative legislators opposed to the law sought to set up a public-private ownership as a compromise, rather that risking the federal government setting up one on the state's behalf. The budget and public education reform were also major issues.[6]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 10 through April 7.[7]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature was in session from January 11th to March 29th.

Role in state budget

See also: Idaho state budget and finances
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Idaho operates on an annual budget cycle with each fiscal year beginning in July. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[8][9]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in June of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor by September.
  3. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Idaho State Legislature five days after the session convenes.
  4. In March the legislature adopts the budget. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

Idaho is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[9]

The legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget; however, the budget does not have to be balanced in order for the governor to sign it into law.[9]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Idaho was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[10]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[11] According to the report, Idaho received a grade of F and a numerical score of 44, indicating that Idaho was "failing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[11]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Idaho was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[12]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Idaho legislature are paid $16,438/year. Legislators receive $122/day per diem if living outside of Boise or $49/day if living inside Boise. Additionally, all members are eligible for actual travel reimbursement between their home districts and the Capitol as prescribed by the Citizen’s Committee on Legislative Compensation.[13]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Idaho legislators assume office after the first day of December following the general election. They are officially sworn in during an organizational session on the first Thursday in December every second year.[14]


The Idaho Commission on Reapportionment is responsible for redistricting. The commission has 90 days to finalize a plan; if unable, the Idaho Supreme Court takes over.

2010 census

Idaho received its local census data on March 20, 2011. The five cities with the highest populations were Boise, 205,671; Nampa, 81,557; Meridian, 75,092; Idaho Falls, 56,813; and Pocatello, 54,255. Boise grew by 10.7 percent since the 2000 Census. Nampa grew by 57.2 percent, Meridian grew by 115.0 percent, Idaho Falls grew by 12.0 percent, and Pocatello grew by 5.4 percent.[15]

In the 2011 redistricting process, the commission missed its September 6 deadline to draw new state legislative maps. A new commission was formed, and first met on October 11, 2011; on October 14, they agreed to the final plan, which had 11 county splits and placed many incumbents into the same districts.


The Idaho Senate is the upper chamber of the Idaho State Legislature. It consists of 35 Senators elected to two-year terms, each representing a district of the state. Each member represents an average of 44,788 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[16] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 36,970.[17] The senate has been composed of 28 Republicans, 7 Democrats since the 2002 elections.

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 7
     Republican Party 28
Total 35

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Idaho State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Idaho State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The Idaho House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Idaho State Legislature. It consists of 70 representatives, two from each district, elected to two-year terms. Each member represents an average of 22,394 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[18] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 18,485.[19] The Idaho House of Representatives has been continuously controlled by the Republican Party since the 1950s, usually by a wide margin. However, Democrats picked up six seats in the 2006 elections, mainly in the Boise area.

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 57
Total 70

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Idaho State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Idaho State House.PNG


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Idaho
Partisan breakdown of the Idaho legislature from 1992-2013

Idaho State Senate: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Idaho State Senate. The Idaho State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Idaho spent the last 19 years under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Idaho State House of Representatives: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Idaho State House of Representatives. The Idaho State House of Representatives is one of 9 state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Idaho spent the last 19 years under Republican trifectas.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Idaho, the Idaho State Senate and the Idaho House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Idaho state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Idaho state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Idaho never had a Democratic trifecta during the period of the study, but the state has had a Republican trifecta from 1995 to 2013, and before that divided government between 1992 and 1994. The Idaho state legislature has been in Republican hands since 1992. The state’s lowest SQLI ranking came near the bottom-10 class (40th) in 1999 and 2000 under a Republican trifecta, while its highest ranking (17th) also occurred under a Republican trifecta in 2007. Idaho made its largest leap in the SQLI ranking between the years 2011 and 2012, jumping nine spots in the SQLI ranking in a single year.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 28.50
  • SQLI average with divided government: 31.00
Chart displaying the partisanship of Idaho government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

State capitol

Idaho State Capitol under renovation
Idaho's state capitol, located in Boise, is considered to be one of the state's most significant buildings, both architecturally and historically. It is built in the Renaissance Revival style. Construction began in 1905 and the first round of construction was completed in 1912, allowing legislative meetings to commence in the new building. A second round of construction to complete the original building began in 1919.[20]

A State Capitol Commission was created in 1998. It was given the responsibility of developing a plan for the restoration of the Capitol.

In 2005, the state legislature allocated a portion of the state's tax on cigarettes to go into a permanent building fund earmarked for repair and restoration of the state capitol.

Joint committees

See also: Public policy in Idaho

See also

External links


Wikipedia® has an article on:


  1. Idaho Secretary of State, "The Constitution of the State of Idaho," accessed August 8, 2013
  2. Idaho State Legislature, "Title 67; State Government and State Affairs," accessed August 8, 2013
  3. Teton Valley News, "A sneak peek at the 2015 legislature," January 8, 2015
  4., "Idaho’s 2014 legislative session underscored by election," January 5, 2014
  5. Idaho Statesman, "Otter facing battles within GOP as Legislature convenes," January 7, 2013
  6. Times News Magic Valley, "See What the Idaho Legislature's Toughest Issues Are This Session," January 9, 2012
  7. Idaho Legislature 2011 Session Dates
  8. National Conference of State Legislatures "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  10. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  12. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  13., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  14. Confirmed via email with the Idaho Legislature on 7/5/2011.
  15. U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Idaho's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," March 20, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2012
  16., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  17. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  18., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  19. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  20. History of Idaho's State Capitol (dead link)