Students from Calvary Christian School in Boise hit the Statehouse Tuesday to observe the legislative process, take an official tour of the building, and push their legislation.
Yes, you read that right. Students from the school advocated for their bill, sponsored by Rep. Rich Jarvis, R-Meridian, to be passed by lawmakers. Some students even made their own t-shirts to show their support of the bill.
The bill being pushed by Jarvis and the students would officially declare the Idaho Giant Salamander as the state amphibian. The salamander is native to Idaho and the only animal that has “Idaho” in its name. It typically is found only in central Idaho and small corner of Montana and can reach a maximum of 12 inches in length. They usually inhabit cold, clear lakes, ponds, and streams and adults have been known to feed on small mice, shrews, or snakes.
Should the bill be passed, a listing for a state amphibian would join the state flower (syringa), fruit (wild huckleberry), gem (star garnet), and even a state dance (square dance) on the list of state-recognized cultural items.
The students’ teacher, Sharon Matthews, said, via a wall posting on IdahoReporter.com, that the project of pushing the bill is helping the students to understand their role in society and government. Matthews added that she believes that students have both a responsibility and a right to learn how legislation is enacted.
Matthews also took time to argue against those who call the bill a waste of time, saying the “bill does not cost taxpayers anything, and cannot be considered frivolous.” She added that the “benefits of students engaging in government processes are priceless and should be encouraged.”
In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Jarvis shrugged off accusations of frivolity. When confronted by other lawmakers about losing so-called “political capital,” Jarvis responded, “I’m not too worried about that.”
Emma, a student in the class, said the class picked the salamander because “it is native to Idaho and it would get a lot of support.” She added that she and her classmates want the salamander to become more well-known around the state and the designation would aid in that process.
As for her own political ambitions, Emma said that she would “probably not” run for office someday “because it sounds like a lot of talking and I’m an active person.”
The bill, designated as House Bill 389, is awaiting a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee.