Associated Press

Courtesty of the Idaho Democratic Party

The Idaho Democratic Party has a new chairman. Party officials picked Post Falls native Larry Kenck on Saturday to replace outgoing chairman Larry Grant.

Kenck is a former chairman of the Kootenai County Central Committee and served as an official with the Teamsters Union group that represents northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

He also ran unsuccessfully for state senate seats in 1996 and 1998 and now serves on the Idaho Industrial Commission Advisory Board.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho tribes want the Legislature to tell counties to quit taxing tribal government land on the state's reservations.

Helo Hancock, a lobbyist for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in northern Idaho, told the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Monday the issue first arose in 2006.

Then, Idaho tribes received a "flurry of assessments" on land that had once been homesteaded, but later re-acquired by tribal governments.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Dental care for low-income adults.  Help for physical and mental disabilities.  Expanding Idaho’s Medicaid.  Those were some of the issues that came up during a public hearing Friday during a joint meeting of the Legislature’s Health and Welfare Committees.   

Brandon Woolf
State of Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Senate has given its consent to the person tapped by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to be the new state controller.

The Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment of Brandon Woolf in a vote Monday.

Woolf was appointed to the post by Otter in October after elected controller Donna Jones retired to focus her energy on rehabilitating from injuries suffered in an auto accident. Jones is a former Republican lawmaker from Payette and was in her second term as controller.

Bruneau Dunes State Park Idaho
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

The head of Idaho's state parks is asking lawmakers to double the agency's share of general fund revenue in 2014.

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Merrill also told budget writers Monday the agency kept all 30 state parks open last year — thanks in part to a legion of volunteers who provided 86,000 hours of free work last season.

The department got $1.3 million from the general fund in 2013. Merrill asked for an increase Monday, requesting $2.8 million to help with the agency's budget next year.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The State Department says a Boise pastor who has been jailed in Iran since September has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Spokesman Darby Holladay said Sunday that the department is calling on Iran to respect Saeed Abedini's human rights and release him.

Earlier this month Iran's semi-official news agency, ISNA, quoted Abedini's attorney as saying his client stood trial in the Revolutionary Court on charges of attempting to undermine state security by creating a network of Christian churches in private homes.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A bill intended to give Idaho insurance brokers an opportunity to help clients shop for health insurance is headed for debate in House committee.

The measure introduced in the House State Affairs Committee Thursday would give brokers access to customers looking for coverage through the health insurance exchange. The exchanges — a byproduct of the federal health care overhaul — will be set up like an online marketplace for insurance products for individuals and small businesses.

UPDATE: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Salt Lake City International Airport has partially reopened after closing for more than three hours because of freezing rain and icy conditions that caused a Frontier airplane to slide on the runway during landing.

Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann says one of the three runways reopened at about 12:45 p.m. on Thursday. The other two remain closed.

Empty Classroom
Karen Apricot New Orleans / Flickr Creative Commons

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — House and Senate education committees will hold a "listening hearing" on Feb. 1, an opportunity for the public to weigh at the Legislature just months after public schools chief Tom Luna's overhaul went down to defeat.

Leaders of the panels in both chambers announced the session on Monday.

It's due to run between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol's basement auditorium.

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt said he wants to invite everyone to share their thoughts on improving Idaho's public schools.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho could be the next western state to engage in a public lands fight with the federal government.

Last year, Utah and Arizona passed legislation demanding the federal government turn over control of millions of acres of public acreage in those states. Utah's governor signed the bill, while Arizona's was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

On Monday, the Utah legislator who led passage of that state's bill urged Idaho lawmakers take the same step toward managing public land in its borders.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Phone companies aim to lift Idaho's 13-year-old restriction forbidding them from cold-calling existing customers, arguing it's crippling their ability to market high-speed Internet.

But Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is already criticizing the push, arguing residents who joined Idaho's million-number "Do Not Call" list shouldn't have to fear erosions of their privacy.

Land-line companies Frontier Communications and Century Link are lobbying for the changes during the 2013 session.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is threatening to withhold $4.5 million it's promised to Idaho next year for a computer program to track student progress.

The foundation in Boise says the money now won't be paid unless Idaho restores taxpayer funding for teacher professional development — money put in jeopardy when voters rejected public schools chief Tom Luna's Students Come First overhaul Nov. 6.

The Albertson Foundation promised $21 million in 2011 for student-performance-monitoring software from SchoolNet Inc., a New York company.

Molly Messick / StateImpact

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho lawmakers are gearing up for the debate over gun legislation and school security.

This week, House Speaker Scott Bedke informally assigned Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale to be the point person on all legislation related to firearms and school security emerging from the chamber.

The Idaho Statesman reports Republican Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Eagle is leading a similar effort in the Senate.

Ron Mendive
Idaho Legislature

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A lawmaker from northern Idaho drew audible gasps when he asked representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union-Idaho if their pro-abortion rights stance also means that they support prostitution.

Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d'Alene, made the comparison Wednesday morning during a legislative breakfast presentation held by the ACLU on criminal justice reform and other issues.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador say they are withholding judgment on a series of gun proposals issued by President Obama — at least for now.

The Idaho Republicans say they want to take some time to review the proposals, including 23 separate executive orders issued Wednesday.

Simpson says he doesn't see any momentum building in Congress for more gun control measures. And Labrador says he will continue to defend the 2nd Amendment and make sure Obama's proposals don't infringe on the right to bear arms.