Idaho lawmakers eye early 2015 legislative adjournment; some worry timetable is too rushed



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BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Legislature doesn't start until another two months, but state lawmakers are already hoping for an early adjournment.

Idaho's legislative leaders met Friday to discuss the upcoming 2015 legislative session just days after Republicans maintained their supermajority control of statewide and constitutional offices in Tuesday's general election.

Lawmakers from all corners of the state will gather in Boise on Jan. 12 to approve the budget, review rule changes and pass legislation, according to Idaho law.

Legislative Council co-chair and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg said he expects lawmakers to finish by April 3, barring any major conflicts. "We want to set realistic dates, not hopeful dates," Hill said.

House Minority Leader John Rusche reminded the room that the handful of lawmakers who were just newly elected may need more time to learn how the statehouse works. "Let's not stifle the discussion and limit their representation of their districts by pushing too hard," Rusche said.

The aggressive deadline is just one week longer than the 2014 legislative session, which was Idaho's shortest session in a decade.

This means the leaders' proposed schedule would only give 81 days to address some of the more complicated topics —like addressing the lack of funding for repairing Idaho's bridges and roads— that lawmakers put off in 2014's session because it fell in the middle of an election year.

Setting the education budget — the state's largest line item— could be trickier next session because of turnover in key roles. For example, it's still unknown who will replace Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, who lost his seat in a surprise defeat in the May GOP primary.

At the same time, political newcomer and Republican Sherri Ybarra will succeed Tom Luna to be Idaho's superintendent of public instruction. Luna released his proposed education budget earlier this year, but Ybarra has repeatedly declined to say if she will amend the 6.4 percent budget increase until she has time to review the document herself.

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