The Idaho State Legislature convened on Jan. 8 to discuss legislative proposals that could become law. The legislature is comprised of house representatives and senators representing 35 Idaho districts.

During the session, which typically lasts 3-4 months, legislators review hundreds of legislative pieces that will impact Idaho citizens’ lives as new or revised laws, policies, and projects.

A recent study by Scroll found that “Rexburg has the lowest local election turnout rate in a sample of college towns in the Mountain West area.”

So as Idaho commences its state legislature, how does this study impact citizens’ civic involvement? How can citizens become more involved?

“I think it’s hard to feel like you’re a part of the community if you don’t necessarily understand what’s happening in the community,” said Britt Raybould, a house representative in Idaho’s 34th district, which covers Rexburg.

Jon Weber, Raybould’s seatmate, suggested people can get more involved during the legislative process by simply asking.

“When we’re in session, and I say we’re looking at or introduced around 400 pieces of legislation, every one of those that’s introduced can be found on the legislative website,” Weber said. “You can search it by topic … and if there’s a topic that you’re really interested in, study it out, read it and then contact your district representative.”

Legislative topics are sorted alphabetically

Legislative topics are sorted alphabetically. Photo credit: Idaho State Legislature

On the website, topics are sorted alphabetically as they are introduced to help citizens understand what’s happening in real time.

During the legislative session, representatives and senators are placed in a position where they must make difficult decisions that could be found controversial or criticized by the public.

Weber discussed decision-making and how small decisions lead to greater things. Everyone faces moments where the small decisions they make may feel meaningless. However, in telling the story about how he became a politician, Weber shared how making those smaller decisions led him to where he is today.

“Those decisions impact you and kind of train you for — almost build on each other — for bigger decisions,” Weber said.