It was like a Friday afternoon at the Idaho Capitol today, as things shut down early so lawmakers – 81 percent of whom are Republican – could travel home to take part in Idaho’s first-ever GOP presidential caucuses. Idaho is one of 10 states taking part in presidential nominating events today, and “Super Tuesday” may help clarify the GOP contest … or not. “Many legislators are heading home this afternoon to make the caucuses, then driving back late at night or early in the morning for tomorrow's legislative sessions,” Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review wrote. The House Education Committee won’t meet Wednesday morning, though the Senate Education Committee will convene at 3 p.m.
The Senate Education panel is also the next destination for HCR048, the resolution honoring the Idaho Education Association on its 120th anniversary. That measure passed the House yesterday. In other anniversary news, the IEA history book Voices of Courage, Champions of Excellence: The Story of the Idaho Education Association Since 1892 is on the presses and will be available at the 2012 Delegate Assembly next month for just $10 a book.
The Idaho Land Board held a special meeting today to discuss three pieces of legislation that could be potentially harmful to the school endowment lands and investments: H477, from Rep. Bob Schaefer on cottage site leases; H495, which passed the House yesterday and would limit the state endowment's business investments; and H612, another measure from Schaefer that seeks to restrict the endowment from purchasing buildings. The Land Board voted 3-1 to oppose all three measures (Tom Luna opposed the motion; Governor Otter abstained from voting, as he will need to make an executive decision regarding the legislation, should it make it to his desk). They further directed the Director of the Department of Lands to inform the Legislature that each of these measures impede upon the constitutional authority of the Land Board. H477 and 617 have yet to be heard in the House committee. However, H495 passed the House last week by overwhelming margins. The bill is expected to be debated by the Senate Resources and Environment Committee shortly.
Tonight’s GOP presidential caucus is the first of two election days for many Idaho voters this month. Just one week from today, on Tuesday, March 13, more than 30 communities will be holding school levy or bond votes. Redistricting may have caused shifts to precincts, so now would be a good time to check with your county elections office or use this online tool to be sure you know where to vote. Tomorrow (March 7) is the last day to mail in an absentee ballot application, and Friday, March 9, is the last day for in-person absentee voting. All absentee ballots must be received by your county clerk’s office by 8 p.m. March 13.