James E. Risch, currently serving as Idaho's 28th Senator, holds a longstanding commitment to public service and a passion for good government. Known for "pragmatic decision-making," Risch is what his peers call a "no-nonsense, get-the-job-done leader" with 40 years of experience in elected office.
Senator Risch was elected to the United States Senate in November of 2008, after serving as Idaho State Senator, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. He currently serves on five senate committees, including the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, giving Idaho a continued voice in legislation that dramatically shapes the West. Risch serves as the highest ranking Republican of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Risch's other committee assignments include the Committee on Foreign Relations, Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee on Ethics.
During his service as Idaho's 31st Governor, Risch lowered property taxes by 20% providing much needed tax relief to Idaho taxpayers, while setting aside $100 million in a rainy day fund for schools. He also designed a plan to manage Idaho's Roadless Areas and supervised the adoption of a rule that effectively prohibits the construction of traditional mercury-releasing pulverized coal power plants. Both measures earned Risch bipartisan acclaim for his pragmatic approach to natural resource issues and land management.
As Governor, Risch also accomplished a number of initiatives to create a streamlined and effective government. He transformed Idaho's Executive Office by opening regional offices throughout the state, enhancing communication and responsiveness to Idahoans. Risch also succeeded in a major reorganization of Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare that allowed for more efficient administration and cost savings.
As a twice-elected Lieutenant Governor, Risch earned a reputation as an advocate for smart economic development. He continues to work with businesses-new and old alike-to ensure continued prosperity for the people and places of Idaho.
Senator Risch began his career in public service at the age of 27, when he was elected to two terms as Ada County Prosecuting Attorney. Following his tenure as president of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, he served 11 elected terms in the Idaho State Senate. His time as Senator was highlighted by his quick election to the leadership positions of Majority Leader and Senate President Pro Tempore, serving in the top two positions of Senate leadership for 19 of his 22 years.
Senator Risch received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Idaho, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Idaho, College of Law. He served on Law Review and the College of Law Advisory Committee at the University of Idaho and has taught criminal law at Boise State University. He was a small business owner, a rancher/farmer and senior partner in the Risch Goss Insinger Gustavel Law firm at the time of his election to the U.S. Senate.
Senator Risch and his wife Vicki have been married for 44 years. They have 3 sons, 2 daughters-in-law and 6 grandchildren. Their commitment to Idaho and their work together earned them the distinction of being selected as Idaho's Healthy Marriage Ambassadors in 2007. They live on a ranch outside of Boise and maintain an apartment in Washington, D.C.