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C.L. “Butch” Otter has been a fixture of Idaho politics since 1973 when he was elected to his first term in the state House of Representatives.Otter was elected to his third-consecutive term as governor on Nov. 4, 2014. He was elected to his second term as Idaho governor on Nov. 2, 2010. Otter first became Idaho's governor on Nov. 7, 2006.Gov. Otter was at the helm during the peak of the Great Recession and it was his administration that oversaw the cutting of the state budget, record unemployment, and a boom in the number of people using government assistance.Otter spoke with StateImpact Idaho back in 2012 about that recession and its lasting impact on Idaho's workforce.Governor Otter: Every Generation Deals with Joblessness and We Live Through ItA Brief BiographyOtter, a Republican, is the longest serving lieutenant governor of Idaho, his tenure spanned from 1987-2000. In 2000 he was then elected to the United States Congress and served until 2006.According to the Washington Post, Otter voted with his party most of the time, 86 percent, but has been known to have an independent streak on some issues.“He was among three Republicans in the House to vote against the USA Patriot Act in 2001 and he later sponsored a bill to repeal parts of it. But independent streaks are sometimes tolerated in a state that would rather not be told what to do by the federal government.” - William Yardley, New York TimesOtter was born on May 3, 1942 in Caldwell, Idaho. He attended St. Teresa’s Academy in Boise and graduated from Boise Junior College (now Boise State University) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1967.After college, Otter joined the Idaho National Guard and served in the 116th Armored Calvary until 1973.Butch Otter is married to his second wife, Lori. He has four children and several grandchildren.

Who Are Idaho’s Legislators? A Demographic Breakdown Of The 2013 Legislature

StateImpact Legislature Demographics
StateImpact

More than one third of Idaho's 2013 Legislature are freshman. That's what prompted StateImpact Idaho to collect, compile and analyze basic demographic information on the Legislature, and compare those stats with the state's general population.

StateImpact Idaho examined gender, age, occupation, education and religion. Here's a link to the complete --embeddable -- infographic.

Here's audio of the Q&A:

Here's the full transcript:

Q: Idaho lawmakers are back in Boise this week as the 2013 legislative session gets underway. More than a third of the incoming lawmakers are freshman. That prompted StateImpact Idaho’s Emilie Ritter Saunders to find out more about these new legislators, and compare the entire Legislative body to Idaho’s general population. Saunders joins me in the studio to explain.  What kind of information did you collect, and why?

A: Like you said, a third of Idaho’s Legislature is brand new this session – so I set out to collect four basic pieces of information on the freshman, as well as update and collect data on current legislators. We emailed, or called lawmakers and asked for their age, education, occupation, and religion. I compiled that same data on Idaho’s general population – mostly from the Census Bureau -- and started analyzing. I wanted to see just how representative our state lawmakers are of the total population.

Q: Are there certain demographic categories that are more or less representative than others?

A:  Yes. The Reader’s Digest version is that Idaho’s Legislature is more educated, older, agriculture-focused, and Mormon than the rest of the state.

Q: Let’s start with education – all 105 Idaho lawmakers have at least a high school diploma, which isn’t in line with the total population, right?

A: That’s right. Census data show 88 percent of people who are 25 or older have at least a high school diploma. When you look at college degrees – 24 percent of Idahoans who are over 25 have at least a bachelor’s degree.  Seventy percent of legislators have at least a bachelor’s degree. The Idaho Legislature also has a larger number of advanced degrees – MBAs, masters, or PhDs. This is very typical of legislative bodies across the country.

Q: So Idaho lawmakers tend to be more educated – and more religious?

A: Not necessarily more religious, but the difference in religious affiliation among lawmakers doesn’t mirror that of Idaho’s general population. We know Idaho and Utah are two of the most Mormon states in the country, so you’d anticipate then the legislative bodies would also have a larger percentage of LDS members. Twentythree percent of Idahoans are LDS, and at least 36 percent of our Legislators are LDS. The biggest difference here is among Catholics. Data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows 18 percent of Idahoans identify as Catholics – but in the Legislature, just 8 percent say they’re Catholic.

Q: And the number of Protestants in the Legislature and in Idaho is more closely aligned?

A: Right. Thirty-eight percent of Idahoans identify as Protestant, 45 percent of Idaho state legislators are Protestant. But I would point out that we don’t know 11 out of the 105 lawmakers’ religious affiliations. They either declined to share that information, or could not be reached.

Q: Was there other information lawmakers were either reluctant to share, or declined to share?

A: I’ve never had so many people decline to comment on something as when I asked for legislator’s ages. Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority had no problem sharing. But there were some who cited identity theft concerns, so they didn’t want to give us a birth date or their age. But one in particular, Senator Russ Fulcher, a Meridian Republican – declined to give us any of the information we asked for. And I’d add here, much of the demographic data we were after is already public through websites like Project Vote Smart and the Legislature’s own website.

Q: In the few moments we have left, I’d like to ask about what you found on the occupation front? How representative is Idaho’s Legislature when it comes to the job they have?

A: I’ll start by pointing out that Idaho’s lawmakers are citizen lawmakers – that means they’re only legislating in Boise for about three months out of the year – so most of them do have day jobs outside the Capitol. But they jobs they hold are quite different than the jobs the majority of Idahoans have. Census data tells us 20 percent of Idahoans work in education, health care, and social work, 12 percent in retail trade, and 10 percent in manufacturing. Those are the top three categories for the general population. Legislators, on the other hand, work mostly in business. Twenty-five percent of Idaho legislators either own a business or work in the business sector.  Twenty-two percent of legislators work in agriculture. By and large, that’s lawmakers who are ranchers or farmers. Then, the third largest occupation segment is retirees. Twenty percent of the Legislature is retired.

Q: I’d imagine the reason we see so many retirees serving as lawmakers is because the Legislature isn’t a full-time job here.

A: That’s exactly right. It’s three months of full-time work, with about a $16,000 salary plus food and housing expenses are paid for. It’s tough for young professionals to make that kind of commitment, especially when they’re getting a career off the ground.  I’d add it’s also tough for people like teachers, or CPAs, or doctors to take three months away from their day-jobs in the middle of winter.

Read much more about the demographics of Idaho's Legislature at StateImpact Idaho's blog.

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