treasurer vault

The Idaho State Capitol was built around the state treasurer’s vault after it was delivered to the statehouse on a horse-drawn wagon.

During today’s Legislative Council meeting, House Speaker Scott Bedke offered a brief update on the ongoing lawsuit between the Legislature and state Treasurer Julie Ellsworth over office space on the first floor of the state Capitol, noting that a judge held a hearing Oct. 31 on Ellsworth’s motion to dismiss. Afterward, Bedke said regardless of the outcome of the case, the Legislature will “do some more permanent-type remodeling of our office space and the temporary nature of it.”

House members who don’t chair committees or serve in leadership have cubicles in the Capitol basement rather than offices to use during the annual three-month legislative session, while senators all have offices. “The reason why we have the temporary or removable walls downstairs,” Bedke said, was that House leaders anticipated more permanent offices being built later, once the state treasurer moved out of office space on the first floor, the rest of which is controlled by the Legislature.

“The members need additional privacy, they need doors that lock,” Bedke said, “and they’re really unanimous in their request for that.”

Ellsworth is refusing to move, saying the treasurer’s offices and staff should remain on the first floor of the Capitol, where a historic vault is located around which the Capitol was built.

However that matter is resolved, Bedke said, the Legislature will submit some type of remodeling plans to the state Capitol Commission for review within the coming months. Construction wouldn’t start until after the 2020 legislative session, and Bedke said, “We would do it in stages. It would seem that there are some concerns about the (state) revenue, and we’ll be respectful of that.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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