Representative Wendy Horman (center) at the Idaho Falls City Club. (photo/Mark Mendiola)
For Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill, the controversial health insurance exchange, education reform and Medicaid issues tackled by lawmakers this year made the 2013 Idaho legislative session one of the most challenging he has experienced. For Wendy Horman, it was her baptism by fire.
Republicans Hill, a Rexburg District 34 senator, and Horman, an Idaho Falls District 30B representative, gave their takes on the recently concluded session as a veteran and a rookie, respectively, at a recent City Club of Idaho Falls luncheon.
This past session was the 12th for Hill, a CPA who serves on the Local Government & Taxation and State Affairs committees, and the first for Horman, a small business owner who serves on the Education, Judiciary, Rules & Administration and Local Government committees.
Hill said the Legislature’s Joint Finance & Appropriations Committee is the envy of many states because of its efficiency. It was informally decided about 25 years ago as part of an unwritten power sharing rule that if someone sat on JFAC, he or she could not chair a committee or be a member of leadership, he said.
“That spread the opportunities around,“ Hill said. “Being in the Legislature is exciting, and it’s frustrating. It’s rewarding, and it’s stressful. There’s always drama.”
Horman said intensive three-day legal training in ethics and procedures enabled freshmen legislators to “hit the ground running. That was not an accident. There’s a very good correlation. … I’m telling you right now, the freshman class were not ninth graders.”
The magnitude of responsibility as a legislator is almost overwhelming, she said, but 11 years on a Bonneville school board helped prepare her for the task at hand.
Horman said process, policy and people had to align as guiding principles when she was a school board member. As a new legislator, she said she had to add a fourth “P” as a principle -- politics.
“The partisan world is not something you can overlook or you do so at your own peril,” Horman said, adding a “crud filter” must be applied when processing information as a legislator. She said she was an “abject failure” in answering hundreds of messages flooding her e-mail box.
Many of those e-mails addressed gun control. Hill said legislators resisted pressure to impose gun restrictions and called Idaho one of the most Second Amendment-supportive states in the union. (more…)