Idaho is one of 14 states with a part-time legislature. Legislators only meet in Boise for three months each year. However, they don’t stop being legislators once they leave the statehouse. 

Scroll interviewed Doug Ricks and Britt Raybould, congresspeople representing Madison County in the Idaho legislature, about the legislative session and their plans until next January. 

Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Scroll: What was the highlight of the legislative session? 

Ricks: “The highlight for me really was the property tax relief bill. It seems like the House members and the Senate members don’t always have the same view on some of the details. Keeping that train on the tracks without getting derailed was a lot of work in the end, but we had really great support. We’re able to provide some meaningful property tax relief to people.”

Raybould: “We came and we did the thing a lot of folks were asking for. They wanted property tax relief. They wanted more investment in education, and that included increasing teacher pay. There was the need to do additional investments into infrastructure to improve roads and improve our water infrastructure. The fact that we got all three of those things done in one session, from my perspective, is huge.”

Scroll: What is a bill you wish got passed that didn’t? 

Ricks said he wishes HB 189 got passed, which was part of a trio of bills relating to environmental social governance standards.

Ricks: “Some of the industry people came forth and spoke out against it which is a tactic of businesses if it makes it through one side (of Congress) and try to get it killed. That’s what happened here. The bill had to do with actually boycotting. If we do some contracts with certain businesses, we don’t want them coming out specifically as a company and saying we’re boycotting this industry such as boycotting diesel fuels, fossil fuels, ammunition manufacturers or gun makers.”

Raybould mentioned HB 167, a piece of legislation she worked on to protect critical infrastructure. 

Raybould: “Sometimes we come forward with new ideas, it can sometimes take more than one session to move that legislation through. And so while I’m disappointed it didn’t work out this year, I’m optimistic that when I bring it back next year, and it’s been revised to address the concerns that were raised, it should go through during the next session.”

Scroll: What is a piece of legislation you wish didn’t get passed that did?

Ricks mentioned the Idaho Launch program. 

Ricks: “When it went into our committee in the Senate, we sent it out to be amended and to put changes in the bill. Leadership ended up moving it out of the committee without modifying it and voting on it. That really frustrated me. I felt like it kind of went against the committee’s wishes and our trust. I brought that up more than once in some of our meetings and caucuses. The trailer bill put some sideboards on it but I didn’t think it went far enough. Even though students can get help for technical training and type programs, whatever, there are no guarantees that any of our businesses will hire them. I would like to businesses stick their necks out a little bit and say, ‘we’ll give a scholarship. We’ll pay for half of that or we’ll guarantee so many people to go through these programs will get hired at these companies.’ There’s none of that.”

Raybould: “I was not thrilled about that greater Idaho resolution. It’s something that was unlikely to happen. Even though there wasn’t a price tag or a fiscal note on it, there’s still a cost associated with it. We end up using resources to host meetings and do research and do things like that. I just found it frustrating that something that is very unlikely and hasn’t managed to get as much support.”

What happens between legislative sessions? 

Between the sessions, Ricks and Raybould will have a lot to keep them busy. 

Ricks will serve on the Broadband advisory board to help increase broadband internet in Idaho. The federal government allocated $10.6 million to increase internet access in rural areas. 

In addition to meeting with constituents, Ricks continues to serve on the Idaho Behavioral Health Council. The council meets quarterly to discuss ways to improve mental health and well-being throughout the state. 

Raybould, as a member of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, will discuss budgets and potential projects with state agencies. 

Raybould also takes time to meet with members of her district during this time. 

“There’s always the potential to work on new legislation,” Raybould said. “Depending on what that legislation is, it may involve meeting with different stakeholders or different people who are going to be affected by the legislation or have an interest in how it’s crafted. You’re really doing a lot of the work that you do when you’re in session.”