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Jokes, rubber chickens, relationship building and German chocolate cake?

by CONNOR SWERSEY Contributing Writer
| February 16, 2021 1:00 AM

In the Idaho Senate, the 15th order of business has turned into much more than just miscellaneous business and adjournment – with stories of cake, and stolen rubber chickens. It has become a time to lighten to mood as work continues, and opinions clash.

On both the Senate and House floors, meetings are structured similarly since both move through orders of business. These orders of business can range from bills, to roll call, to many other of the common happenings in Idaho Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon helps explain all these things to newly elected senators and can use his experience within the Senate to help run the floor.

“When I was a freshman senator, Bart Davis was the majority leader,” Anthon said. “I always looked forward to the 15th order because, well, he was a storyteller.”

These short stories ranging from short jokes to his favorite german chocolate cake recipe. “These were often unusual or just funny,” Anthon said.

Davis, a senator of 19 years, 15 of which he held the position of Senate Majority Leader, is now the District of Idaho U.S. Attorney.

“It was never my intention to be silly,” Davis said. “Government by nature, is a great deal of conflict.”

Davis explained that almost everyone he served with was a good person, and just doing what they thought was right and what their constituents’ thought was right.

“If we could have a little bit of fun at my expense, that was okay,” Davis said. “If we chuckle about a few things, we realize that among our differences there is a great deal of similarities.”

One of his favorite memories, included the Blue Cross, pedometers, and the Senate Minority Leader at the time. The Blue Cross provided pedometers for the legislator’s belts to count their steps and have a contest on who could get the most steps. The winner securing a donation for their local school district.

“During the 15th I stood up and said, ‘I don’t know what to do with this thing,” Davis said. “Very quickly the minority leader stood up and said, ‘well senator Davis, when you go to the lunchroom, you put it in on your fork.”

“We all had a laugh,” Davis said. “And that is what you should be able to do.”

Anthon explained what his intentions are with continuing this sort of Senate tradition. It is a pressure relief valve after tensions may have been high.

“When I am in the 15th order, my inclination is to try to be Senator Davis a little bit,” Anthon said. “I want to provide something peculiar or interesting for people to think about.”

Anthon stated that it is not just about being funny, but that little moment of levity can bring the floor together. It is all about relationship building between colleagues.

“I think it is important because relationships can make the day,” Anthon said. “Even when you disagree, the relationships are key and that is what Bart [Davis] did by allowing everyone to have a shared experience and laugh a bit.”

Anthon recalled one memory of a rubber chicken getting stolen and the announcement of a vigil for the lost rubber chicken. “That kind of levity is important,” Anthon said.

Davis loved working in the Senate, and learned many life lessons about the state, the job, and the people he worked with.

“These are good and decent people that I had the distinct privilege of working with,” Davis said. “I don’t say that to gain their favor, I say it because it is true.”

In a dominatingly red state, Idahoans from both sides of the aisle want to hear about their representatives working together for a stronger Idaho.

“If people would just take the time to look at how valuable everybody’s opinion is and try to find the center of that opinion, then we can move forward,” Davis said.

Connor Swersey is an intern with the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research and the UI JAMM News Service.