Senator Mary Souza's Idaho Senate Journal
The “interim” is the time between our legislative sessions, so it is from April through December. These nine months are busy for legislators because we are invited to numerous local meetings as well as out of town and out of state meetings and conferences.
Our job as legislators is considered part-time, though during our three month session, January through March, we work about 50-60 hours per week. But most people don’t realize our work does not stop when we return home after the session. I have used my calendar to count up and estimate my time for the past 6 months, April through this current month of September.
During this timeframe, I have attended 45 local meetings and have been at full day or multi-day out of town meetings or conferences totaling more than 20 days, with more to come in the remaining quarter. And these calculations do not include phone calls, emails, letters and research preparation for future legislation! Idaho legislators do not have any staff except some shared clerical assistants during the session. During the interim, our “district offices” are a desk tucked in a corner of our homes, and we answer our own calls, emails and letters, and manage our own schedules.
With that said, I feel fortunate to be entrusted with this important responsibility. Below you will find highlight photos of some of my interim activities:
Town Hall meetings
In Kootenai County, we have town hall meetings which include all legislators from Districts 2,3 and 4, each month during the session and afterward as well.
Healthcare Listening Forum
I held a special event in May to hear feedback from constituents about their thoughts and concerns regarding health care. It was very well attended and provided a wide variety of views which I’ll be taking to the Health and Welfare Committee this next session.
(Photo by CdA Press)
North Idaho JFAC Tour
JFAC is the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. I am one of the 10 Senate members and there are the same number from the House. Twice each interim JFAC travels on a two day tour of select, budget-related locations to better understand financing certain projects. In June we toured several North Idaho locations, including Farragut State Park, pictured here. Beautiful! We will have a Southern Idaho JFAC Tour next month in October.
I have attended several meetings, conferences and retreats this interim, learning from experts in our state as well as other legislators from across the country. It really helps to see how other states are dealing with issues of concern here in Idaho. Great speakers too!
Idaho Legislative Tour
Different than the JFAC budget tour, this 3 day tour is for all legislators and it switches every other year from north to south. Hosted by an area’s Chamber of Commerces, this event also rotates between regions. This year it was in southern Idaho, just last week, and focused on Burley / Rupert and Twin Falls / Jerome in the Magic Valley. It was fascinating to see the innovations in beef, dairy, processing, packaging, shipping and more. The Magic Valley is certainly a power center for Agriculture in Idaho!
We’ll end, for now, with some of the 3,000 flags planted in Jerome to honor the victims of 9/11, on the anniversary of that tragic event. We will not forget.
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