Idaho Citizens for

Good Government

Idaho's Senate and House Leadership

One very difficult problem that Idahoans face in trying to stop unbridled concentration of power is the way our current constitutions and the federal constitution have structured congress and the legislatures.

Prior to the 17th amendment, which was ratified in 1913, our federal Senators were elected by the state Legislatures.

This ammendment broke an ingenius method that the founding fathers used to grant representation for both the people and the states.  This is called bi-cameral representation.

This is one of the primary differences between a republic and a democracy.

The states followed suit in their constitutions and now we have this rather silly complexity of electing two separate bodies, both representing the people.

All the rigmarole over how a bill is passed comes from the original constitution and its bi-cameral structure.  Leaving this system in place causes less upset to wary voters.  Had the Senates of the states simply been removed, things would have been simpler but voters would have noticed the change abruptly.

Both the House and Senate make their own rules.  In Idaho this is encoded in law.  Knowing these rules, one can see that all senators and representatives are not equal in power.

You can find the Idaho House Rules and the Idaho Senate Rules online at these links.

The leadership of these bodies appoints all the standing committees and the Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro-tempore can assign bills for study to committees and call those bills to the floor for a vote.

Because of this power, many members of the legislature may not even get a chance to vote on proposed legislation because the committees can “bury” a bill and the house leadership can simply never call it to a vote.

This is a kind of powerful veto power that has no path to overcome.

Looking at the grades of our two Idaho houses of the legislature shows that we have a formidable obstacle to making badly needed reforms in our laws.

If you have a representative or senator from your district that is in a leadership position, and you don’t like how he/she is voting, it becomes doubly important that that person be removed from office and replaced with someone that will vote more to your desires.

The problem is, their replacements will come from the most senior members of the legislature so it takes several elections in a row to change the character of the legislature leadership.

See our Law-Vote-Tool to explore the detailed votes of your representatives and decide for yourself who you want in office.