Before It Begins

    The old Ada County Courthouse sits across the street from the
Idaho Capitol Building. This evening, as snow begins to fly, the
historic marble and columns wait under construction, and, in what we
now call the "Capitol Annex" (our temporary statehouse,) 70 new House
desks and 35 well worn Senate desks wait to be filled with lawmakers
from the state’s 35 legislative districts.
     My seat will be somewhere upstairs in the new balcony of the
House chambers. This year I’ll sit with a very smart and hard working
crew of six Democrats and 14 as yet unassigned Republicans.
     Where we sit to make Idaho law does matter. It allows us
either to see or be seen by our colleagues while we debate, speaking
into one of thin, black microphones that reach up from every pair of
desks to the high ceiling. It lets us whisper to a neighbor we hope to
persuade or ask questions of a seasoned friend. It lets us plot or joke
to make the difficult days go more quickly. It lets us solve problems,
hatch ideas and improve state law through reasoned discourse.
     On Monday when the 2008 legislature convenes, we will repeat
the chair choosing ceremony which usually follows an election. Choosing
one by one in order of our seniority, 70 House desks will fill and we
will be assembled and ready to begin at least three months of
inventing, repealing and hopefully doing no serious damage to Idaho