Not everything is digital in the House. Pages still post white numbers on a board to create the House Calendar each day. This is a pretty full board but yesterday's was even more packed.
Rep. Liz Chavez from Lewiston at her desk on the floor.
Before the afternoon floor session the front row sets to work reading bills and answering e-mail.
Quiet night on the floor now. We had a full calender and came back at 3 PM to do a second floor session for the day. We plowed through a lot of senate bills. Now I'm up on the balcony with fans rattling and Rep. Tom Loertcher out of sight on the phone below discussing how he feels he could pretty likely pass a bill through the house to do away with primary elections all together. "Get the government out of elections," he laughs. Sounds a little like get voters out of elections to me. But I'm biased. I like open primary elections and loved seeing all the Independents and Republicans at our Democratic caucuses this year.
Latest strategy from Committee Chairs is to hear controversial bills over two or three days. All the opposing testimony concentrated in the first day. Then all the supporting testimony (or the Chair's preferred testimony) on the second day, right before the vote. The Business Personal Property Tax repeal today for example. Darfur Divestment in the Senate, testimony was split exactly like that.
The Farm and Ranch protection act to save working lands from development was killed that way last week. Strong testimony from a woman who raises sheep in Canyon County the first day. Also eloquent words from a farmer from Swan Valley. He testified to the point I had tears running down my face. He talked about the loss of those working lands, the elk and bear and peasant and blowing wild grasses. His attachment to place. The dirt under his nails and his father leaving him the farm and its open beauty just as it was decades ago. What he has is now rare. Yet this land is still there, only because of the money provided by an easement he sold in promise that neither he nor any future owner would build subdivisions. It sits there in the open, below encroaching develop, off to one side as you cross the Snake River headed for the Tetons. This man spoke of his desire to see this land stay as it is until the caldera bursts open again and swallows the place. In perpetuity. We heard his testimony and then held the vote to the next day when republicans on the committee picked the bill apart and killed it.