Winder addressing Senate screenshot 4-30-21

Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise, addresses the Idaho Senate on Friday, April 30, 2021.

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The Senate held just a brief session this morning, convening at 8:19 a.m. and adjourning until Monday just under 20 minutes later. It barely had a quorum, with 19 of the 35 members present. “There’ll be no votes today, we won’t do any real business,” Senate President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise, told the senators. “We’ve got to move some things, get them to the governor, etc.” The Senate ran through its orders of business, formally moving and assigning bills, and announced two committee meetings to be held on Monday, in the State Affairs and Transportation committees. HB 135aa, the vetoed emergency powers bill, was held until Monday. Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, who as assistant majority leader was taking the floor role usually handled by the absent majority leader, said, “Given the fact that we have just barely a quorum today, out of consideration for the rest of our members, we’d like to take that up on Monday.” The House already has voted to override the governor’s veto, but the Senate hasn’t weighed in; it earlier failed to muster the votes to override a companion bill.

Before adjourning the Senate, Winder said he wanted to make a statement. “I want to thank the House Ethics Committee for taking on one of the toughest cases that I can remember, most difficult,” he said. “I want to thank the young woman who came forward and had the courage to come forward. Anyone and everyone who comes here and works here, including yourselves, should feel safe here. It needs to be a respectful place to work. No one should be attacked or exposed on social media because of bringing forth a complaint. We should have a very good system of protecting, whether it’s a man or a woman, that comes forward with a complaint. And I feel like it got out of hand on social media. And I just want to let you know where I stand on that. No one deserves to be victimized twice.”

“I’d also like to thank Sen. Wintrow for standing on the steps of the Capitol and speaking up for those that have been victimized in the past and bringing that issue to light. It’s something that we all have to deal with in our culture, and we need to do a much better job, especially for those of us in public service.”

“It’s past time that we, the Legislature, should finish up the work of the people,” Winder told the Senate. “Property tax relief, lowering tax rates, funding our public schools, funding our transportation network, dealing with the ARPA money, finish up balancing of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branches in times of extended emergency. So I just ask all of you to continue to be the people you are. I’m proud of every one of you in this body, and I thank you for your service. And I ask you to drive safely as you go home. Thanks for coming in this morning, making this an opportunity for us to do some of our work, and yet allow some of our colleagues who desperately needed to be home for family reasons, for business reasons, for ranching and farming reasons. But let’s be ready to come back on Monday to finish up our business.”

“I honestly believe that if we get to work and can get things done between the two bodies, that we could be out of here by midweek,” he said, “so we’ll push for that, and we’ll need your help to get that done. So thank you all for being here. It was a very unusual week. And each one of you, I think, rose to the occasion, so thank you very much.”

The Senate has now adjourned until 10 a.m. on Monday.

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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