Right after Thanksgiving I made my first trip as a Senator-elect to Boise. There were three days of Orientation, then a swearing in and a day of Organization. We selected leadership and made committee assignments. All during orientation I was impressed with the need to know the Senate Rules, so I studied them most nights. I will have to keep rereading them.
My Standing committee assignments and schedule:
8AM Agricultural Affairs TTh
1:30 Commerce and Human Resources TTh
3:30Health and Welfare MTWTh
I was also assigned to interim committees:
CAT Fund (which provides legislative oversight for the catastrophic insurance fund)
Millennium Fund (which oversees tobacco settlement funds used to deter tobacco and substance abuse)
Health Care Task Force
I got my office assignment, phone number, parking permit, and made arrangements for housing. But most importantly, like any new job, I met lots of people. I met the other newly-elected legislators during orientation. I am still meeting staff and incumbent Senators, and Representatives.
While back in Moscow I had more meetings with constituents (the North Idaho Medical Society, Dental Society, Moscow teachers, University, EMS, commerce representatives, North Idaho Health District and more).
The Millennium Fund Committee met the second week of December so I made another trip to Boise for this. After two days of hearing proposals on how to spend the $7.9 million that is available from the endowed fund, I began to wonder. We can spend money to discourage smoking, why not consider increasing taxes? I bet a lot of teenagers would find another dollar or two per pack at least a mild deterrent. And keeping kids from starting smoking is a healthy investment.
As I left the capitol parking garage for my drive back up through this beautiful state, I saw a coyote trotting through a parking lot right across the street from me as I exited. People on the sidewalks did not seem to notice. I rolled down my window and called. He was a young one, not yet in full winter coat. He stopped and looked at me for just a second then trotted on across the North End of Boise.