The 2013 Idaho Legislature adjourned on April 4. Legislators debated everything from health care to public education funding. We brought you the major stories from the 62nd regular session, including the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange. Now it’s time to do the numbers, with a little help from the recently released end of session report:
For some, public land in the west is a place to camp and recreate. For all of us, these lands are a source of water and the air we breath. That’s especially true in Idaho - where more than half of the land is federally owned and managed. Now, some states like Idaho and Oregon want to take over the management of these federal lands.
Idaho’s 2013 legislative session is over. Lawmakers passed the last bills they were willing to tackle before noon Thursday.
In the last minutes of a legislative session lawmakers get in a weird mood. They give emotional speeches, recite poetry, a few senators even sang an original song about going home on the floor as the Senate wrapped up its final business
The final gavel has come down and the 2013 Idaho legislative session is over. Both the Senate and the House passed the $1.3 billion public schools budget. That budget is nearly identical to the one the Senate rejected last week, a move that prolonged the session by nearly a week.
Idaho’s 2013 legislative session is expected to wrap up Thursday. Passing the public education budget has held lawmakers up. Wednesday another of the session’s big education issues cleared its final hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk. But the overhaul of the state’s charter school law is not what backers had hoped it would be.
When the 2013 legislative session wraps up, a big policy question will remain: Will the state make Medicaid available to a greater number of Idaho’s poor? The federal health care law encourages that move. It’s a debate that involves potential costs and savings, along with patient well-being. And it turns quickly to chronic conditions, like mental illness.
During the Idaho legislative session, a lot of people go in front of lawmakers to make their case for why their bill or program should get support. This session, one presentation captivated lawmakers. It came from 12-year-old Ilah Hickman, a 6th grader at Boise’s White Pine Elementary.
She asked legislators to name the “Idaho Giant Salamander” as the state amphibian. Adam Cotterell talked with Ilah about why she decided to do this and what it was like to speak to lawmakers:
Boise State political science professor Gary Moncrief calls what happened Wednesday in the Idaho Senate extraordinary. A plan approved by the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, known as JFAC, died on a 17 to 18 vote.
“Usually, in fact almost always what goes to the floor from JFAC is accepted on the floor,” Moncrief says.
Updated 10:59 p.m. Idaho Senators narrowly missed signing off on a proposed $1.3 billion education budget Wednesday. The 17-18 vote sends the bill back to the budget writing committee. The legislation which calls for a more than 2 percent increase for K-12 easily passed the House last week. Opponents focused on two problems in debate.
They argued providing more money to school districts for basic operations was more urgent than reversing some teacher salary cuts made during the recession.
Members of the Idaho House this week could vote on a measure that puts the state on record as opposing any form of legal marijuana. Such a vote would put Idaho at odds with the recent push to legalize pot in states like Washington and Colorado. Those who support the measure say approval would be a symbolic victory that would set Idaho apart. Opponents say lawmakers are out of touch on the issue.
A bill headed for the floor of the Idaho House would tap into the interest in hunting wolves to raise money for ranchers who lose livestock to those wolves. A legislative committee approved the measure Tuesday, despite legal concerns.
Idaho lawmakers who represent ranching country say it's now up to the state to cover losses caused by wolves. Federal compensation funds are another casualty of the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester.