Lt. Gov.-elect Scott Bedke, House Speaker Mike Moyle and Majority Leader Megan Blanksma confer before the start of Thursday’s organizational session. (Kevin Richert/Idaho EdNews)

With 45 new lawmakers in the Statehouse — and a plethora of key committee positions up for grabs — the Legislature went to work Thursday morning.

During the Legislature’s “organizational session,” lawmakers will get their assignments to House and Senate committees. The committees conduct much of the nuts-and-bolts work of the session — on education policy, state budgets and taxation, among other topics.

This year, a spate of retirements and election upsets have resulted in a record class of new legislators. And with the massive turnover, committees will get a makeover.

At least 11 of the 20 members of the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will be newcomers, and JFAC’s chairpersons’ and vice chairpersons’ seats are open. Newcomers will get at least four of the nine seats on the Senate Education Committee, where the chairperson’s and vice chairperson’s seats are open. The House Education Committee will get, at least, a new vice chairperson, and seven of the 15 committee spots are open.

The changing of the guard began early on the House floor Thursday, when lawmakers elected Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, as House speaker. The unanimous floor vote was a formality; House Republicans elected Moyle in a caucus Wednesday night. Moyle succeeds Lt. Gov.-elect Scott Bedke, who had been speaker for 10 years.

The organizational session could conclude Thursday, or continue into Friday.

The 2023 legislative session begins on Jan. 9.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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