After 78 legislative days, the 2010 Idaho Legislature has closed its doors for good barring a return for a special session due to possible budget issues. Both houses of the Legislature adjourned around 9 p.m. Monday MT, with the Senate going first, followed by the House.
Though it was closing time for lawmakers, legislation was being rushed through in an effort to get all work done as quickly as possible. Members of the Senate spent their day amending House legislation, - including a gun bill, a ban on texting while driving, and a measure designed to increase school district transparency -and passing a few amending bills of their own.
Representatives, on the other hand, used their day Monday to push through appropriation bills necessary to fund the functions of state government. Only after the Senate sent the amended House bills back to representatives did things get hectic, especially in debate on the texting ban, which was the last bill heard by lawmakers in the session.
For a few lawmakers in both houses, Monday was not only an end to a session, but also a career. Reps. Donna Boe, D-Pocatello, Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, Russ Matthews, R-Idaho Falls, Branden Durst, D-Boise, and Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, all took a moment to thank their fellow lawmakers for their friendship during the session. Boe and Clark are retiring, while Matthews and Labrador are seeking congressional seats in their respective districts. Durst is the only one who could remain in the Legislature. He has announced plans to run for the Idaho Senate in November.
On the Senate side, emotions also ran high as senators honored those worked extra hard during the session, as well as those retiring from public service. Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, received high praise for his work in setting state budgets during a time of much economic turmoil. Cameron was given a flag that flew over the Senate dome during the entire session by Senate Pro Temp Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs.
“Sen. Cameron has completed what I think is an impossible task,” Geddes said.
Senate Minority Kate Kelly, D-Boise, who is retiring, also received admiration from senators. “Her word has always been good,” said Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo. “I have respected her judgment and her contribution so much.”
“She is truly an asset to this body,” said Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene. “I will miss her.”
“We wish you well in all of your future endeavors,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls. “We thank you for your service.” Davis ended the Senate session, in honor of Kelly and former Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, who suffers from brain cancer. Stennett's wife, Michelle, has served in his stead while he battles the illness. She has announced that she will run for his seat in November.
Both houses closed after reading a letter from Gov. Butch Otter, in which he thanked lawmakers for their work, and their decision not to raise taxes. “Thank you for holding the line against tax increases that other states have imposed or are considering,” his letter said.