Butch Otter

Idaho Capitol, statehouse
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Supporters of refugees in Idaho are holding a rally Saturday, in response to the attacks in Paris and to send a message to state lawmakers.

The group's Facebook page, the Rally For Solidarity With Refugees in Idaho, says it “is simply a meeting for Idahoans to express their solidarity with refugees from Syria and the rest of the world.”

It's been almost two months since the Obama administration decided not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Just a few days later, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter filed a lawsuit challenging the BLM and Forest Service for the changes in land-use regulations that came with the ESA decision.

Les Bois Park Live Horse Racing
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Horses may no longer run at Les Bois Park in Boise. The company that runs the facility – Treasure Valley Racing – says a ban passed earlier this year on gambling machines is jeopardizing its business.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Constitutional Defense Council will meet Wednesday. The members will be asked to spend money to pay for a lost legal case. Recent court cases have drained the fund considerably this year.

Idaho Education News

As Idaho moves into the realm of mastery-based education, the state is getting unpaid help from a prominent education reform group.

But the Foundation for Excellence in Education — founded by GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — is itself a newcomer to mastery. During a meeting with the State Board of Education in May, a foundation official said the group has not worked with any other states on implementing mastery programs.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho's highest court says the state must enforce legislation banning lucrative instant horse racing terminals.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the court ruled that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto of the legislation was invalid because he didn't complete it within the required five-day time span.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today in reaction to the decision:

Thomas M. Parsons / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials aren't ruling out that new state parks could be named after private companies that give large donations or sponsorships, but a recently proposed set of rules would severely limit business' ability to acquire naming rights.

Earlier this year, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed legislation permitting the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to pursue sponsorships with corporations to help offset slashed state revenue. Now department officials are finalizing sponsorship rules, which will need approval from the department board and Idaho Legislature.

Soda Fire Containment: More Than Halfway There

Aug 17, 2015

Governor Otter issued Owyhee County a disaster declaration Saturday afternoon to provide assistance to the communities that have been affected by the Soda Fire. 

With favorable weather conditions over the weekend, firefighters made headway to reinforce and secure containment lines and mop up unburned islands. The cooler temperatures and decreased winds bought crews time to look for potential problem areas in preparation for a cold front with wind gusts arriving Monday afternoon.

Screenshot / Idaho Public Television

It’s a multi-million dollar question that now stands before the Idaho Supreme Court: Should a ban on instant horse racing become law? This question was argued before the justices Tuesday.

The case is about instant horse racing machines, which some, like the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, argue are too close to illegal slot machines.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho had to dip into its bank account Monday to pay for three lawsuits the state has recently lost. The price tag is more than $800,000 dollars.

Law enforcement officials in northern Idaho are worried local vape shops may be violating the state's strict anti-marijuana laws by selling oil derived from cannabis plants.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that the oil is a non-psychotropic extract, meaning users are unable to get a high using the product.

However, Post Falls Police Chief Scott Haug says the oil is illegal under Idaho law because it comes from a marijuana plant.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has created a task force intended to strengthen the state's protections against computer hackers.

Otter on Monday announced that he signed an executive order creating the Idaho Cybersecurity Cabinet Task Force.

Otter in a statement says the task force will develop policies, programs and strategies to find vulnerabilities and prevent attacks.

He says the state's long-term economic competitiveness is linked to cybersecurity.

Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says closing public access to some state forest lands amid wildfire concerns by private timberland owners is an option that has to be considered due to extreme fire danger this year.

Consultant Jim Riley on Tuesday told Otter and other members of the Idaho Land Board that a million acres of private land has been closed this year to the public due to potential wildfire.

Riley says the private owners are concerned about human-caused fires starting on state land and spreading to neighboring timber stands.

Forest History Society / Flickr

State officials have given their OK to modify a northern Idaho timber sale to include helicopter logging that will cost the state up to $1.5 million in lost revenue.

The Idaho Land Board voted 4-0 on Tuesday following a federal court ruling earlier this month that put the Selway Fire Salvage timber sale on hold by temporarily banning the use of a contested U.S. Forest Service road.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says it's disappointing but the Land Board had little choice.

Northwest politicians reacted Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is set to make a decision that many in the West have been anticipating for years. The federal agency will decide whether to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, a move that many groups in states like Idaho want to avoid.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is playing host to nine other Western states' governors and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to try to reach a consensus on regionwide issues such as drought.

Sandoval chairs the Western Governors' Association, which is holding its annual meeting in Lake Tahoe from Wednesday to Friday.

The governors will tackle a number of topics throughout the three days, including a newly released report detailing best practices for states to mitigate the effects of drought.

Lawrence Wasden
Idaho Public Television

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says the Coeur d'Alene Tribe is going after the wrong guy in their legal fight over instant horse racing terminals.

The tribe filed a petition with the Idaho Supreme Court last week contending that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto of legislation banning the betting machines is invalid because he didn't complete it within the required five-day time span. The tribe asked the high court to force Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to certify the legislation as law.

State of Idaho

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed state Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert to oversee the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Otter announced Friday that the 13-term Republican lawmaker will be the new director effective June 15.

Cameron is co-chair of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, one of the most powerful legislative committees in the Idaho Statehouse. He also owns an insurance and securities investment company in Rupert.

The insurance position has been open since former Director Bill Deal left at the end of 2014.

Sally Jewell, sage grouse
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell met with Idaho state officials, fire managers and ranchers Tuesday about a new strategy to protect greater sage grouse habitat from wildfire. The 82-page plan is part of a larger effort among 11 western states trying to keep the threatened bird off the Endangered Species List. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the bird in September.