Associated Press

State officials say the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted Idaho an extension to comply with the federal REAL ID Act.

The Idaho Transportation Department in a statement Tuesday says the extension granted on Friday means Idaho residents can continue to use their Idaho driver's licenses to board commercial flights and enter federal areas, such as nuclear facilities and military bases.

That was set to expire starting in 2016.

Zacklur / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court says private sector health care companies cannot sue to force states to raise their Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep up with rising medical costs.

The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday that the medical companies have no private right to enforce federal Medicaid funding laws against states if Congress has not created such a right.

An Idaho House panel has killed a proposal to legalize oil extracted from cannabis plants used to treat children with severe forms epilepsy.

The bill failed to garner enough votes to advance on Monday.

The quick vote came after the House State Affairs panel listened to nearly four hours of testimony, ranging from tearful parents pleading for the bill's passage to law enforcement representatives wary of the plan's unintended consequences.

The bill was named after 10-year-old Alexis Carey, who has a rare but intractable form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to help school districts crack down on bullying in Idaho's public schools is on its way to the governor's desk.

The Idaho Senate passed the bill 24-10 on Monday.

The bill would require local school district leaders to go through anti-bullying training and create a way for bullying to be reported.

Democratic Sen. Jane Ward-Engelking from Boise, who sponsored the bill, says that bullying can lead to depression and anxiety among students, as well as problems keeping up with classwork.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

State education officials have delayed finalizing Idaho's No Child Left Behind waiver with the federal government until the end of April in order to pursue a more flexible agreement for local districts.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra announced the change to the House Education Committee on Monday.

She had just finished attending meetings with other state education heads in Washington, D.C.

Metal Chris / Flickr

An aggressive three-part proposal to eliminate sales tax on groceries, lower income taxes on Idaho's top earners while hiking the fuels tax by 7 cents per gallon has passed the Idaho House.

House lawmakers voted 53-17 Monday to send the bill to the Senate for approval.

Majority Leader Mike Moyle says the bill will boost Idaho's economy by attracting more businesses and providing families with more money they would have spent on grocery taxes.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Senate has killed a plan to make a new process to accredit naturopaths in Idaho.

The Senate voted 25-10 Monday to defeat the bill, which had faced substantial changes over the last week in an effort to find a compromise.

Two major groups of naturopaths in Idaho have disagreed on licensing guidelines for decades, especially since licenses were granted to the profession in 2005.

The Senate also voted 22-13 to repeal state laws that require naturopaths to get a license.

MHall209 / Flickr Creative Commons

Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking the dairy industry by the horns on an animal welfare issue that bothers activists but is little known to consumers.

Horned calves are common in dairy herds and farms routinely remove the horn buds by burning or gouging them out before horns develop. Horns are hazardous because unruly cows can gore farm workers or other animals.

General Mills, Nestle, Denny's are among companies pushing increased breeding of cows born without horns — called polled cattle.

Idaho would have the ability to enter into an interstate compact to pursue transferring control of federal lands under a proposal making its way through the Statehouse.

House lawmakers voted 45-23 on Friday to approve setting up the compact, facing from opposition from both Republicans and Democrats worried of the bill's unintended consequences.

capitol, JFAC
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Legislative budget writers are matching Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's request to restore public education money slashed during the economic downturn by adding roughly $101 million to the Idaho schools budget.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee approved increasing the schools budget by 7.4 percent on Friday. The proposal now needs to pass both chambers, but the legislation is expected to pass.

The proposal includes allotting $33.5 million to boost teacher pay, part of a five-year teacher pay increase plan lawmakers approved earlier this week.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A three-part tax bill that would eliminate the grocery sales tax and lower income taxes on top earners has passed an Idaho House panel.

The bill by House Republican leadership would also include a seven-cent fuel tax increase, which would raise $65 million per year to address Idaho's transportation funding shortfall.

Under the tax plan, Idahoans in the top income tax bracket would see their rate drop from 7.4 percent to 6.7 percent.

Rookie teachers in Idaho will receive pay raises starting July 1 under a $125 million proposal headed to the governor's desk for his signature.

The Idaho Senate unanimously approved the measure Thursday, where senators offered only praise that the 30-page bill had survived both chambers after seeing prior proposals flounder this legislative session.

Steve Sawyer / Flickr

A bill that would ban Idaho's slot-like instant horse racing machines has passed the House and is on its way to the governor's desk.

After two hours of discussion in the chamber, the House voted 49-21 Thursday to repeal a law the Legislature passed in 2013 allowing the lucrative betting terminals, which closely resemble slot machines.

Some lawmakers say that they were tricked into approving instant horse racing — that is, betting on an earlier horse race but with no identifiable information.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Monsanto Corporation has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for hundreds of uncontrolled releases of dangerous chemicals at its phosphate plant in eastern Idaho.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced the agreement Thursday involving the company's facilities in Soda Springs.

Federal officials say the chemicals released are hazardous and can pose serious health risks to workers and the community.

The preliminary hearing for a 22-year-old southwest Idaho man charged in connection with the killings of a former Arizona power company executive, his wife and their adult son has been postponed after the defense attorney withdrew.

An Ada County judge on Thursday then approved Adam M. Dees' request for a public defender after Dees said he had no significant assets or a job.

Dees is charged with grand theft and forgery in connection with the killings of 80-year-old Theodore M. Welp, 77-year-old Delores E. Welp and their son, 52-year-old Thomas P. Welp.

Now that he's been charged both with desertion and with misbehavior before the enemy, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be looking at life in prison if he's convicted.

Bergdahl abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban for five years before being freed in a prisoner swap.

An Idaho Republican lawmaker's political website has been snapped up by a group claiming to be gay rights activists, decorated with rainbows and replaced with text requesting that the legislature meet with same-sex marriage supporters.

State Rep. Paul Shepherd from Riggins is backing a non-binding resolution urging Congress to impeach federal judges who violate the U.S. Constitution. Shepherd contends that recent court rulings overturning state bans on same-sex marriages violate the Constitution.

Nicholas D. / Flickr

Family members of three people found dead inside their home in the Boise foothills earlier this month say they are filled with sadness deeper than words can express.

The family made the statement Wednesday shortly before a funeral mass at St. Paul's Catholic Student Center on the Boise State University campus.

Police on March 10 found 80-year-old Theodore M. Welp, 77-year-old Delores Elaine Welp and their son, 52-year-old Thomas P. Welp, dead in the home.

Theodore Welp is a former Arizona power company executive.

U.S. Department of Defense

A U.S. official says the Army sergeant who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years will be court martialed on charges of desertion and avoiding military service.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will also be charged with misbehavior before the enemy, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the announcement publicly on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. military plans an announcement at Fort Bragg in North Carolina Wednesday afternoon.

Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

House Republicans are introducing an eleventh-hour patchwork plan to raise more than $100 million for Idaho roads.

The House Ways and Means Committee introduced two of the three parts Wednesday morning — including registration fee hikes and up to $26 million in general fund dollars.

The proposal is similar to legislation killed by the House Transportation Committee last week.

But House Majority Leader Mike Moyle says that he hopes breaking the plan up into three pieces will let lawmakers approve at least some of the parts.

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