First Vote

First Vote


For the first time on Wednesday we had bills for the third reading. That is when they are before the Senate for debate and a final vote. For some of you the arcane meandering through committee and procedure may be second nature. I am still learning. And I expect to be for a while.

If you ever want to watch what happens in the Idaho Senate there is streaming video here. We usually call roll 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. (MT) each weekday. Don’t expect much drama.

The Senate votes each bill by roll call. The first bill to come to the Senate for a vote was regarding the rules around juvenile incarceration. The bill is first begun to be read by the Secretary of the Senate. But the floor sponsor soon stands to interrupt and the President (Lieutenant Governor) calls on him or her. Bills are tedious to read. The sponsor will ask for unanimous consent that “further reading of the bill be dispensed with and let the record show the bill was read section by section and line by line.” We all say “Aye” and the President recognizes the sponsor to begin debate. The sponsor describes the bill and pitches for support. There may be questions asked of the sponsor or people may rise to debate, or speak for or against the bill. In this case there was no debate, no one spoke, and with a thump of the gavel debate was closed. The secretary called the roll. (It is done alphabetically.)

“Andreason.” “Aye.”

“Bair.” “Aye.”

I am right after Pearce.

“Schmidt.” “Aye.”

My colleague leaned over and touched me. “Your first vote?”

I nodded.


I smiled.


Later in the week another freshman senator arose to open debate on a bill. “My fellow senators this is a housekeeping bill that corrects language in a bill passed last year. It has no significant change to intent or action, I urge your approval.”

With 600+ bills passed every year I am sure lots of what is done one year is fixing the mistakes done the year before. There was no debate and the roll call started.

“Andreason.” “Aye.”

“Bair.” “NO,” loudly, firmly.

The next three senators also all voted no. By now I knew what was happening. So did the freshman sponsor. Before the roll call ended senators got up one by one and asked to change their vote to “Aye”.

It was a mild bit of hazing for us new guys. Welcome to the fraternity.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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