Butch Otter

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.

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.

Idaho Education News

A year ago at this time, a STEM Action Center wasn’t even so much as a proposal.

Angela Hemingway was working with the State Department of Education. She was “deep in the weeds” of assessment and accountability issues, and the idea of a STEM center wasn’t really on her mind.

In 2016, the brand-new STEM Action Center could get a big cash infusion from the Legislature. Hemingway, the center’s executive director, is fielding questions from lawmakers about how the money would be used.

Kevin Rank / Flickr Creative Commons

For the fourth year in a row, Idaho lawmakers on an economic outlook panel have sided with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter' revenue projections on how much money will flow into the state in the 2017 fiscal year.

The Joint Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee voted 13-4 Thursday in favor of the estimate Otter released Monday's State of the State address. The governor's forecast predicts $3.34 billion in tax revenue or 4.9 percent more than the current year.

The committee's recommendation now moves to the state's budget committee for final approval.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

In recent years, funding for higher education has been a secondary focus for Idaho lawmakers. Following the recession, K-12 schools were lawmakers’ top education priority. But now - amid continued revenue growth and changing workforce needs - higher education is being discussed more and more. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter proposed this week the state’s four-year colleges and universities get a nearly 9 percent increase in state funding next fiscal year.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

In his State of the State speech Monday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter said education is his top legislative priority this year. The Republican’s budget proposal includes millions of dollars in new funding for K-through-12 schools. 

But based on percentage, the increases Otter is requesting for higher education are even larger.  The governor’s budget hints at some changing priorities in state government.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter began outlining his budget and policy priorities for state lawmakers during his "State of the State" address Monday afternoon, naming public education as his primary focus for the year.

The annual speech kicks off the start of the legislative session, with state lawmakers, members of the judiciary and other leaders gathered in the Idaho Statehouse to hear Otter's remarks.

Otter reminded lawmakers of the state's constitutional requirement to provide a general, uniform and free public school system. He proposed a 7.9 percent increase to the state's public education budget. That would bring the total to $1.59 billion. It's the second year in a row that Otter has proposed steep hikes for education spending.

carfull / Flickr Creative Commons

Despite the landmark decision not to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) last year, there are still lingering questions for many people around the west. A big one? Whether the ESA itself should be reformed.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced a new proposal Thursday that he says would help low income Idahoans get health care.

The Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) still needs to be approved by the Idaho Legislature. It is designed to help adults 19-64 who don’t have health insurance.

Otter says Idaho doesn’t want to expand Medicaid and PCAP will help the 78,000 people who fall through the cracks of the current system.

screengrab otterpac.com

Political action committees (PACs) have come to dominate American politics with their ability to donate to candidates and spend independently to support candidates. But a new PAC in Idaho may be unique in the state.

Otter Pac registered with Idaho’s Secretary of State last month. That’s Otter as in Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn two recently passed Idaho laws that ban women from receiving abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest in a lawsuit filed Tuesday says that the laws, signed by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter this year, create an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

The new laws require doctors to be present when administering pregnancy-ending pills. It also requires doctors to make "all reasonable efforts" to schedule a follow-up, but it does not specify how many days later.

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
InciWeb

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.

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