Butch Otter

Texas is filing a lawsuit over the Obama administration’s transgender student guidelines.

Ten other states are supporting the lawsuit, Reuters reported Wednesday. Idaho was not on that initial list, but will support the Texas lawsuit.

“We still plan to participate and are working on an amicus brief in support of the states listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit,” Mark Warbis, a spokesman for Gov. Butch Otter, said Wednesday afternoon.

Idaho Education News

Gov. Butch Otter issued his first vetoes of the year Tuesday afternoon, killing the closely watched Bible-in-schools bill.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho governor Butch Otter stood in front of reporters Monday and called the legislative session that ended Friday “pretty good.” Later in the press conference with legislative leaders he said lawmakers did a “tremendous job.” Lieutenant Governor Brad Little called it a “great session.” And Speaker of the House Scott Bedke recited a list of people he thought should be happy with it including teachers, students, firefighters and state employees.

Idaho's public schools are on track to receive a 7.4 percent budget increase under a plan from the Legislature's budget-setting committee.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a 6.8 percent boost — about $100.3 million — for public schools on Monday morning. But some components of the K-12 budget plan are still working their way through the House and Senate, and committee members said they expect those bills will bring the total public education budget to a 7.4 percent increase over the previous year.

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Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has endorsed Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.

The Ohio governor's campaign announced Otter's endorsement Wednesday.

Otter had previously stated he would prefer a Republican governor to win the presidential election. Kasich is currently the only Republican governor still running for president after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush quit the race earlier this month.

Idaho's Republican presidential primary is March 8.

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.

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