When the Idaho Legislature convenes for its 2017 session in January, it will look broadly similar to a year ago — but a bit more Republican.
Republicans already had a supermajority in both the House and the Senate, but in the November elections they went from holding 56 to 59 of the Idaho House's 70 seats, and from 28 to 29 in the Senate.
Nationally, things will be much different, with a Republican president to be inaugurated Jan. 20. Donald Trump's policies will likely mark a radical departure from the Obama administration's in many respects.
For one, Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and with both houses of Congress under Republican control this could be doable. This has already changed the conversation in Idaho over providing health care coverage for people in the "Medicaid gap." Congress could debate significant changes to the ACA while the Legislature is in session, throwing into question whether Idaho Medicaid expansion, the preferred solution of the Democrats and of advocates for health-care groups and the "gap" population, will even be an option given possible changes on the federal level.
Despite this, many of the issues the Legislature will grapple with will be the same ones it always deals with — taxes, budgets and the competing financial needs of the state's many departments.
Here, we highlight just a few of the issues that will come up, mostly in Boise but also in Washington, D.C., by talking to Idahoans who will be directly affected by the outcomes — a teacher advocating better school funding; a woman facing charges for treating her sick daughter with cannabis; a woman with a chronic condition who struggles to get treatment; a city manager who wants to be able to ask voters for a local option sales tax; the head of a dairy association who is waiting to see how Trump's campaign promises will translate into policy that affects his industry; and a hunter with an interest in the Idaho Department of Fish and Game budget.
Some of these things are guaranteed to play out. The state has to pass an education budget and a Fish and Game budget, for example, and health care will certainly be a subject of debate in Boise although the outcome is hard to predict. Others are uncertain or unlikely to change.
This isn't a comprehensive look; certainly, other issues will come up that aren't touched on here.
We'll all see in January.