Associated Press

Flickr Creative Commons

An Idaho House panel has introduced a bill that would allow terminally-ill patients to access drugs that are still being researched.

Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow of Boise says the legislation permits patients to use pharmaceuticals that have already passed safety tests by the Federal Drug Administration.

The House Health and Welfare Committee introduced the proposal Thursday. The bill must now clear a legislative hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Lucas Polsson / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says he's concerned with the number of children who die because their parents choose faith healing and not medical assistance for religious reasons.

Otter announced Thursday that he's asked House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill to form a legislative interim committee to study the issue over the next few months.

The Republican governor says that he believes the state can find a balance that both protects children and supports religious freedom.

Facebook

Two Idaho Democratic female lawmakers say the Idaho code isn't just for men.

Reps. Melissa Wintrow of Boise and Elaine Smith of Pocatello are backing legislation that would require gender neutral language in all of Idaho's copious laws. Wintrow says the bill is important to show young girls that they belong in all circles, particularly state government.

The two-paragraph bill says legislation should contain non-gendered phrases such as "he/she" or "his/her," rather than use the masculine pronoun by default.

Jim Peaco | Yellowstone National Park / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal wildlife services and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials have joined forces to kill wolves in the Clearwater Region for the third year in a row.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that elk herds have been struggling in the remote country for nearly two decades.

Jesse Michael Nix / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Girl Scouts would get a tax break on each box of Thin Mints under legislation introduced in a House committee.

The House Revenue and Tax Committee introduced a bill Monday that would exempt Girl and Boy Scouts' food programs from the state sales tax.

Republican Rep. Janet Trujillo of Idaho Falls says the tax break would allow scout programs to thrive but would take about $210,000 in scout-generated sales tax revenue from state general funds.

J Biochemist / Flickr Creative Commons

A bill that would allow public utilities to keep blueprints and other documents secret from the public has passed is first hurdle in the Idaho Legislature.

The House State Affairs Committee introduced the measure Friday.

The proposal would exempt the public from seeing emergency response plans, computer and telecommunication systems and building blueprints.

Ard van der Leeuw / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is feeding elk in four areas of south-central Idaho in hopes of keeping them off roadways and away from hay stacks and cattle operations.

The Times-News reports that residents in the Wood River Valley are asked not to feed elk or stop them from moving on to the Fish and Game feeding areas.

Jill Stewart / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities are looking to spend extra cash left in their budget thanks to the drop in fuel prices in 2015.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Caldwell and Nampa saw major savings in their 2015 fuel budgets. In Nampa, the police department has had surplus funds in its fuel budget for the past three years.

Flickr Creative Commons

Cities and counties in Idaho would need state approval to enforce plastic bag bans under a new proposal currently making its way through the Idaho Statehouse.

The Idaho House voted 52-17 on Wednesday to make it illegal for cities to impose bag bans, restrictions on Styrofoam containers and other disposable products. If approved, local officials would need permission from the Idaho Legislature to enact the restrictions.

Currently, no cities enforce plastic bag bans in Idaho, but such efforts have been made in the past.

Tatters / Flickr Creative Commons

A central Idaho homeowners association is taking steps to eliminate a poisonous plant that has been killing elk in the area.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that the Valley Club Owners Association in Hailey has prohibited the planting of yews. The exotic shrubs are commonly used in landscaping, but they are toxic to many animals and to humans.

The Idaho Legislature's first-ever hearing on expanding Medicaid eligibility attracted hundreds of supporters Tuesday, but lawmakers declined to vote on whether to send the measure forward after listening to an hour of testimony.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee held an information hearing on a proposal that would expand Medicaid eligibility to cover everyone who earns less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.

Officials with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation say they've used approximately $70,000 in private sponsorships to partially offset their depleted budget.

Director David Langhorst told a state budget writing committee that private businesses like Airstream and Cabela's have funded various programs in the department's first year of using cooperate sponsorships. Private sponsorships raised another $30,000 in in-kind donations in 2015.

Twitter

Ammon Bundy and his armed followers made ample use of social media while occupying an Oregon wildlife refuge, and federal officials are using those posts, videos and photos to build the case against them.

Two criminal complaints show that federal authorities have carefully scrutinized the group's social media postings and video interviews.

A day after the Jan. 2 occupation began, Bundy posted a video saying the group planned to stay for several years and calling on "people to come out here and stand" and "we need you to bring your arms."

Update: 8:00 a.m. Friday - A federal judge says she will not release any of the people arrested in the standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge while the occupation continues.

The Oregonian reports U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman made the comments Thursday during an initial court appearance in Portland for three of the 11 people arrested. The FBI said four people remained at the site late Thursday.

A key Idaho Republican lawmaker has announced a surprising change of course for the Idaho Legislature, saying he has scheduled the first-ever hearing on a Medicaid expansion bill.

Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, told the Lewiston Tribune that he will allow a hearing to take place on February 2.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Great Seal of Idaho
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers have sent a tax conformity bill back to the drawing board because it would have removed an unenforceable rule banning joint returns from same-sex couples.

A bill that would prohibit powdered alcohol in the state is headed to the Idaho House, but it'll likely face changes before lawmakers get another chance to vote on it.

Idaho State Liquor Division Jeff Anderson told the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday that powdered alcohol is prone to abuse by minors and is easily concealable. He says 27 states have already prohibited the substance.

The legislative panel unanimously sent the bill to the House floor to be amended.

Herald Post / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho schools chief Sherri Ybarra is proposing a 7.5 percent hike in public school funding. The increase would go toward more money for teacher salaries and restoring funding to pre-recession levels for Idaho's 115 school districts to spend on paying insurance, utilities or other operations costs.

Ybarra presented her budget to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. She is requesting spending $1.5 billion for fiscal 2017, which is nearly $110 million more than this year's budget.

Amanda Peacher / OPB

Update: 3:00 p.m. -  Law enforcement officers have driven a large convoy of vehicles into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Four vehicles were seen leaving the refuge toward Burns shortly after entering. 

It’s unclear if the remaining four militants at the refuge have surrendered. But earlier today, two of them said they were willing to end the occupation if they could avoid charges.

Monash University / Flickr Creative Commons

Regional medical school administrators are requesting more money to expand the number of seats for Idaho in a regional program that educates medical students.

Mary Barinaga, an assistant dean with the University of Washington, says they need an additional $278,900 to add five additional Idaho seats in WWAMI — the partnership between Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho and the University of Washington.

The request would fulfill a 2009 plan to increase the number of Idaho students to 40 per class.

Pages