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Idaho legislature to experience significant turnover in 2023

Courtesy of the Idaho legislature
The Idaho state Senate chambers, where, of the 35 senators who finished the 2022 session, only 16 will return in January.

Almost half of the 105 members who will take the oath in 2023 didn't serve in 2022.

Idaho state officials say they’ve finished their canvassing of the 2022 general election. What stands out is the significant amount of turnover in both the state House and Senate.

Only 16 of the 35 people who finished the 2022 session as state senators will be back when lawmakers reconvene. In north Idaho, the churn is especially strong.

The senators in the six northernmost districts will all be different than in 2022. Republican Doug Okuniewicz from Coeur d’Alene is moving up from the state House to serve (the newly-redistricted) District 3.

He’s one of five representatives to switch chambers. Two of the panhandle’s other new senators, Phil Hart from Kellogg and Dan Foreman from Viola (just north of Moscow), are former legislators. Hart served in the state House from 2004-2012, but became embroiled in a controversy about his refusal to pay federal taxes. He lost primary elections in 2012 and 1018. Foreman served one term in the Senate from 2016-2018, then lost to Democrat David Nelson, whom he returned to defeat in 2022.

The other new senators in the Panhandle are Republicans Scott Herndon (District 1, Boundary and Bonner counties), Ben Toews (District 4, Kootenai County) and Carl Bjerke (District 5, Kootenai County).

In the state House, 39 of 70 members are returning. The chamber will have a new speaker. Scott Bedke, who has wielded the gavel for 10 years, will be sworn in as the state’s lieutenant governor.

In north Idaho, returning legislators include Reps. Sage Dixon (District 1) Heather Scott (District 2), Vito Barbieri (District 3), Ron Mendive and Tony Wisniewski (District 5) and Lori McCann and Brandon Mitchell (District 6). They will be joined by newcomers Mark Sauter (District 1), Dale Hawkins (District 2), Jordan Redman (District 3 and the son for former District 3 Rep. Eric Redman), Joe Alfieri and Elaine Price (District 4).

Republicans will continue to dominate the agenda in Boise. Their 28-to-seven margin in the Senate is the same as last year. The G-O-P gained one seat in the House to move its advantage to 59-to-11.

The Idaho legislature is scheduled to begin its 2023 session on January 9 and end on April 8.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.