The official legilsative session started Monday, with a very short ceremonial Senate session in which several Senators were sent to the House side and to the Governor’s office to carry the message that the Senate is ready to work. Likewise, emissaries from those places, the House and Governor, sent back messages that they are also ready to get started. The whole process is full of history and tradition, and took only a short while, but fulfills the time-honored standard set so long ago. Then we all lined up, by seniority, and walked around the rotunda to the House chambers for the State of the State address by the Governor. We were warmly greeted by the House members and walked down the aisle to the very front (called “the well” of the House), where chairs had been set up for us. (remember, there are 35 Senators and 70 House members, so their chamber is bigger). After we were seated, the Justices of the State Supreme Court and the District Courts processed in. Then came all the newly elected “constitutional officers”, which are the Sec. of State, the Attorney General, State Controller, State Treasurer and Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Lt. Gov. had come in with us, since he’s the President of the Senate. The Governor arrived last, to great applause. It was incredible to realize that every state level elected official was in the same room at the same time. And the gallery was full of visitors, and all kinds of media of course. Gov. Otter’s speech was uneventful. He used a teleprompter, so his often entertaining spontaneity was limited. He just looked back and forth, reading the prepared text for the full hour. There were some good ideas, like fully funding education to pre-recession levels, but questions will be asked about other money issues like transportation, removing the grocery tax, alternatives for healthcare and more. It was important to hear the administration’s starting point, and it will be interesting to see how the legislature responds. Here’s a photo of the fabulous high school choir, from Sugar Salem school in Eastern Idaho, I think. They sang three songs for us in the Senate, Monday morning, before we went over to the House side. What talent these kids have!