Popkey: Teen's quest for state salamander will have to wait till 2015

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comMarch 13, 2014 

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House Speaker Scott Bedke meets Les Bois Junior High School student Ilah Hickman, 13, at the Capitol on Wednesday. Ilah was there to meet and lobby House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertcher. She has been working for four years to have the Idaho giant salamander adopted as the official state amphibian, and she wants Loertcher to bring it up for a hearing. Ilah said Bedke told her: "No more cute and tenacious. That has gotten you this far. Now you have to work (the State Affairs) committee like the rest of us. You don't like your mom telling you what to do, and the committee members don't like me telling them what to do either." Ilah said she plans on lobbying State Affairs committee members, including Loertcher, on Thursday.

KYLE GREEN — kgreen@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

It looks like 13-year-old Ilah Hickman will have to spend a fifth year trying to convince lawmakers that Idaho needs a state amphibian in the person of the Idaho giant salamander.

Though the Senate passed Senate Bill 1271 on a 33-2 vote Feb. 26, a skeptical House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher has been sitting on the bill since and now says it's too late for a hearing.

Hickman, a seventh-grader at Les Bois Junior High School in Boise, lobbied House Speaker Scott Bedke Wednesday, while she waited to buttonhole Loertscher. Bedke told her he wouldn't press Loertscher, R-Iona, to schedule the bill.

As chronicled by Clark Corbin of Idaho Education News, Hickman didn't give up, hanging around the House for two hours until she finally got her meeting with Mr. Chairman.

Loertscher quizzed Hickman on state symbols — flower, bird, raptor — and was suitably impressed. But Corbin reports that while apparently charmed, Loertscher was unmoved on the pertinent policy question.

“(Designating state symbols is) a strange concept to me,” Loertscher told Hickman. “I don’t know why we do this."

Hickman told Corbin: “If he doesn’t pass it, I will come back next year until they pass it."

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