Butch Otter

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.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has selected former state Sen. Bob Geddes as the new director of the Department of Administration.

Otter announced the appointment on Wednesday.

Geddes is currently a registered lobbyist for Monsanto and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. Prior to that, he served one year as chairman of the Idaho State Tax Commission and nine terms as a state Republican senator from eastern Idaho.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Former Idaho Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna has taken a new position as an emergency planner with the state's Bureau of Homeland Security.

The agency announced the hire Tuesday.

Agency Director Brad Richy says Luna has the needed expertise of state agency coordination and understanding of state, county and local government in Idaho.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter praised lawmakers for successfully passing child support enforcement legislation during the Idaho Legislature's 11-hour special session.

Otter told reporters Tuesday that he will sign the bill once it gets to his desk.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A special session of the Idaho Legislature has passed a bill that brings the state into compliance with federal rules governing child-support payments.

Similar legislation was rejected last month, jeopardizing U.S. involvement in an international treaty that aims to make it easier for parents worldwide to collect child-support payments.

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter called lawmakers back to Boise recently after nine Republican House members killed a compliance bill, jeopardizing the treaty and state access to federal funds and programs.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter Wednesday called for a special legislative session to reconsider a child support bill killed by a handful of conservative lawmakers.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is calling lawmakers back to Boise for a special session May 18 to address a failed child support bill rejected during the 2015 legislative session.

A House panel killed the bill the last day of the session over concerns it could require the state to enforce rulings made in other countries under Islamic law.

The governor said Wednesday he's met with legislative leadership to find a solution that lawmakers in both chambers will approve.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have required Idaho sign language interpreters to get a state license.

The plan aimed to stop unqualified interpreters from causing miscommunications in important situations, like emergency rooms or legal proceedings.

But Otter said Wednesday that the plan would have created a strain on already limited resources. Otter added that he will work with stakeholders to make a policy for certified interpreters in the future.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little had supported the bill, voting yes to break a 17-17 tie in the Senate.

Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have legalized a marijuana extract for patients with severe forms of epilepsy.

In his veto letter, Otter said his administration has strongly opposed the legislation because "there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law."

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Thursday he is not yet prepared to call a special legislative session to address child support.

Just before the 2015 legislative session ended last weekend, members of a House committee killed a bill to bring Idaho in compliance with changes to federal child support programs.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers Monday passed a bill to allow parents to treat epileptic children with an oil extracted from cannabis. Idaho’s House approved the bill 39-30 after more than an hour of intense debate.

Opponents, such as Rep. Luke Malek, R- Coeur d’Alene, argued the bill legalizes marijuana because the oil has small amounts of the chemical that makes pot users high.

“This bill changes the approach Idaho has taken to drug policy and does so based on anecdote not scientific evidence,” Malek said.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed legislation that will ban Idaho women from receiving abortion-inducing drugs via telemedicine.

The new law signed on Monday requires a doctor to be physically present when giving pregnancy-ending pills. But telemedicine is not even currently available in the state.

The law also requires doctors to make efforts to schedule a follow-up visit with the woman after administering the drugs.

aposematic herpetologist / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho giant salamander is now officially Idaho's state amphibian.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed the legislation on Thursday.

Fourteen-year-old Ilah Hickman has been lobbying state lawmakers to pass the bill for five years. Her dreams were briefly crushed earlier this year when lawmakers killed the bill in committee. However, lawmakers later revived the bill and sent it to the governor's desk.

Otter gave Hickman a copy of the bill and his pen before letting her sit behind the governor's desk.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The nearly $125 million plan to boost teacher pay in Idaho over the next five years won the governor's stamp of approval.

Under the new law, which Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed Thursday, rookie teacher pay would steadily increase to $37,000 a year by 2020.

Over time, more experienced teachers will be able to qualify for higher pay of roughly $42,000 to $50,000 a year.

Otter says passing the plan that had support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and all major stakeholders defined the 2015 legislative session as historic.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A plan to help school districts crack down on bullying in Idaho's public schools is on its way to the governor's desk.

The Idaho Senate passed the bill 24-10 on Monday.

The bill would require local school district leaders to go through anti-bullying training and create a way for bullying to be reported.

Democratic Sen. Jane Ward-Engelking from Boise, who sponsored the bill, says that bullying can lead to depression and anxiety among students, as well as problems keeping up with classwork.

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