Boise GOP Rep. Mark Patterson's decision to resign 12 hours before the 2014 Legislature convenes guarantees his seat will be vacant for a period not to exceed 30 days. Such a lengthy vacancy is unlikely, however, and West Boise citizens will probably have full representation by the Legislature's second week.
The District 15 Republican Committee voted Dec. 19 to urge Patterson, 61, to quit following November's revelation of his 1974 guilty plea to assault with intent to commit rape. The next day Patterson gave up on his hopes to complete his term, telling Gov. Butch Otter he would quit. But Patterson's Dec. 20 resignation letter delayed his departure until midnight Jan. 5. The Legislature convenes at noon Jan. 6, when it will hear Otter's State of the State and Budget Address.
The District 15 GOP Committee set a Dec. 27 meeting to consider nominees to replace Patterson, hoping to get names to Otter in time to have the seat filled Jan. 6. But Otter's office reviewed Idaho Code 59-904A and informed the committee members they would have to wait until after Patterson's resignation, and the meeting was subsequently cancelled.
"Our interpretation of the statute is the vacancy must occur before the process can begin," said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian on Monday.
The vacancy provision gives the committee 15 days to provide names to Otter, and gives Otter another 15 days to act. Both the committee and Otter want to move swiftly.
"We're prepared to fill that seat as quickly as they can make the nominations, but we're going to do it by the book," Hanian said.
GOP Sen. Fred Martin, a member of the District 15 Committee, said the group hopes to meet Jan. 9 or 10 to make nominations to Otter. Barring some unexpected hurdle, that makes it likely Otter will make the appointment by Jan. 13, when the Legislature begins its second week.
Patterson will receive his last full biweekly paycheck for a gross of $632.23 on Jan. 3. On Jan. 17, he will receive a check for a pro-rated amount covering his final days in office. Lawmakers are paid $16,438 annually.