The 2021 Idaho Legislature finally came to a close on November 17 after 311 days, shattering the previous record of 118 days. Usually, the Legislature meets between and April, but this year was different.
Instead of adjourning for the year, the House opted to “recess” back in May, circumventing the Governor’s authority to call a special session. The House’s only remaining obligation was to vote on the recommended censure of Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird). Who is accused by the House Ethics Committee of being “evasive, combative, and not forthright in her sworn testimony… [and] repeated lying, half-truths, and total disrespect for the Ethics Committee.” When they reconvened in mid-November, the House agreed with the committee’s findings in a 49-19 vote, stripping Giddings of one of her committee assignments.
The other reason that the House recessed in May was their stated desire to reconvene to consider further appropriation of federal COVID-19 stimulus funds. By the time November rolled around, that thinking had evolved, and the target had shifted to block vaccine and mask mandates. In all, 36 different measures were introduced, mainly from the House of Representatives. In the end, only one non-binding Memorial passed, which conveyed the Legislature’s opposition to President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandates. That federal mandate, which requires large employers and government contractors to vaccinate, targets 30 separate lawsuits, including at least three from Idaho.
Aside from that single Memorial, the special November edition of the Idaho Legislature failed to accomplish anything else. It still cost Idaho taxpayers over $90,000.
On January 10, 2022, the next session of the Idaho Legislature will convene, where we expect several failed proposals to resurface.
But that wasn’t all that was happening in the world of Idaho politics.
On November 10, the Idaho Redistricting Commission approved final maps for State and Congressional Legislative Districts. As required by the Idaho Constitution, reapportionment of districts occurs following the Census to ensure that an equal number of voters (~52,000) make up each Legislative District and that the Congressional Districts are equal in size. In Idaho, a bi-partisan commission convenes to develop the new maps, and consider any challenges by the Idaho Supreme Court. So far, two challenges have been filed, and we’ll see whether they hold up.
While many states’ redistricting processes have devolved into partisan rancor, with accusations of gerrymandering and maps that attempt to tilt the playing field, Idaho’s even-handed redistricting commission appears to have struck a balance, under the leadership of former Senators Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls) and Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow).
The revised Legislative District Map would reshape numerous districts, meaning that incumbents will overlap in some districts. In others, vacancies will open the door to new candidates, and several Representatives and Senators have announced intentions to run for higher office (see below). What we know is that we are sure to see some new faces after the 2022 election. For the Congressional District Map, the line splits Rep. Russ Fulcher’s and Rep. Mike Simpson’s districts shifted slightly to the west.
Other political news
But wait, there’s more! At the statewide level, the race for Governor is heating up. Primary contenders include incumbent Gov. Brad Little, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, and anti-governmental activist Ammon Bundy on the Republican side, with Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad and Melissa Sue Robinson of Nampa announcing on the Democratic side. Lt. Gov. McGeachin got a boost following an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. A handful of other perennial and third-party candidates have also filed.
In the race for Lt. Gov, being vacated by McGeachin, Rep. Giddings is facing off against House Speaker Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley). Until this week, former Rep. Luke Malek (R-Coeur d’Alene) was also contending for the state’s second-highest office but withdrew and threw his support behind Bedke. On the Democratic side, Terri Pickens Manweiler of Boise has thrown her hat in the ring.
Other statewide Constitutional Officers will be up for election next year, including:
- Attorney General – In the last several days, both incumbent AG Lawrence Wasden announced his plan to seek election to a record 6th term. He’ll face former Rep. Raúl Labrador and Arthur Macomber of Nampa Dennis Boyles, both of whom have ties to McGeachin. No Democrats have yet announced.
- Secretary of State – Sen. Mary Souza (R-Coeur d’Alene) will be retiring from the Senate after the next session in a bid to be the next Secretary of State. She’ll face current Chief Deputy Sec. of State Chad Houck, as well as Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley), who similarly will be retiring from the House to pursue her bid. The third candidate in the race to succeed Lawerence Denney is Phil McGrane, who has the support of former Gov. Phil Batt. Like the AG race, no Democrats have filed for office.
- Superintendent of Public Instruction – While current Schools Superintendent Sherry Ybarra has yet to announce her plans, several challengers have thrown their names in the hat. Including former Idaho Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield and former Sen. Branden Durst (D-Boise), who also served two terms in the House and is now running as a conservative Republican in the race to run the State Department of Education.
- Controller – There is no news to report yet in the race for State Controller, who pays Idaho bills, maintains financial records, and prepares the annual state audit. Current Controller Brandon Woolf is expected to run for reelection.
Primary elections for each of the legislative, congressional, and statewide offices will be held on May 17, 2022, with the winners facing off in the November 8 election. ICL is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any candidates for political office. However, we encourage our members and supporters to educate themselves on the issues and the candidates to make informed decisions when they go to the polls.