Leaders face the press: Robert Geddes (left), Lawerence Denney
They probably intended to convey a workaday Idaho legislative session, nothing especially exciting here, and if that was the idea, then Idaho Senate President pro tem Robert Geddes and House Speaker Lawerence Denney succeeded.
They were at an Idaho Press Club lunch today, fielding questions on a fairly broad range of subjects, from property taxes to teacher pay to the corrections explosion. But the overarching metaphor for everything seemed to be the legislature's cramped circumstances.
The Idaho Statehouse is shut down for renovation, for this session and next moving legislators next door to the old Ada County courthouse (now referred to as the "statehouse annex"), much smaller and less comfortable quarters than before. People are stepping over each other (especially in the House), or jamming into small corners. Denney asked reporters trying to interview House members to do it off the House floor, rather than at their seats as they historically had; the closeness of the quarters means legislators might have trouble working with visitors climbing over them.The limits on freedom of movement probably have a psychological effect, too; lack of physical ambition can lead to the mental version as well. (Something like this probably affected the Washington Legislature this decadetoo, in the sessions when it also was bounced from an under-renovation statehouse; those were not especially productive sessions.)
The exploding population in jails, prisons and parole "is a problem we need to address this session," Geddes said, and probably some movement will be made, whether or not toward the private prison ideas Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter has proposed. Geddes described the problem in some detail, and he seemed quite conversant with the implications of several of the options. But as to what path any of those options might take remained unclear.