1960 joint legislative session
As you climb the grand staircase to the third floor, look above you. In the 1950s, the space above the stairs was enclosed, but during restoration the area was opened up as originally designed, to provide more natural light. Newly crafted marble balustrades were based on original designs. Drop ceilings, installed in the 1950s to hide cabling, have also been removed, re-creating the original ceiling and showcasing the decorative plaster.
The light shafts visible in the hallways originally helped cool the building, but by the 1970s they had lost their original function and served as pathways for electrical wiring. The original light shafts have been retrofitted to hide the new heating system and conduits. New wiring is hidden by backlit false walls that mimic the look of the original shafts.
The Idaho Legislature is a citizen legislature that meets annually from January through approximately March. The House chamber is located in the east wing. The Idaho House of Representatives includes seventy members, two from each legislative district. The perimeter wall was added in the 1970s to improve acoustics, and the blue color scheme mimics the U.S. Capitol. The Senate chamber is located in the west wing. The Senate has thirty-five members, and the Lieutenant Governor – who is not a member – serves as Senate president, voting only to break a tie. The color scheme in the Senate chamber is red, also used at the U.S. Capitol. The furniture in the House and Senate chambers has been crafted to resemble the original desks while still accommodating modern technology.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) is located in the former Supreme Court chamber at the north end of the floor. The Idaho Supreme Court met in this chamber from 1912 through 1970, when it moved to a new building on Fifth and State streets.
JFAC is comprised of ten members of the House of Representatives and ten members of the Senate. JFAC studies and recommends how the state budget will be allocated. Notice the judicial symbolism in this room. The light fixtures on the wall symbolize “torches of justices.”