Government Transparency

Government Transparency
9:30 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Idaho Governor Ombudsman Order Changed At The Last Minute

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Public records from Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office show that an executive order creating a new public records ombudsman had to be scaled back at the last minute over concerns it could step on existing law.

Otter issued the executive order late last month, naming Cally Younger the new ombudsman and calling on her to create an annual report detailing public record requests and denials. The move was in response to a request from the Newspaper Association of Idaho, which wanted an option to appeal denied requests without going to court.

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3:59 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Idaho Governor Appoints Public Records Ombudsman

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed a public records ombudsman to review how state agencies handle records requests and to look at ways to improve Idaho's public records laws.

Cally Younger, the associate attorney for the governor's office, is filling the post, Otter announced Wednesday.

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12:01 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Idaho Gets A Failing Grade For Government Transparency

Credit U.S. PIRG

Idaho is one of three states with a failing grade when it comes to government transparency, as ranked by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer interest group.

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6:45 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Why It's Tough To Track What Lobbyists Give To Idaho Lawmakers

Tim Hurst is Idaho's Chief Deputy Secretary of State. Part of his job is to ensure lobbyist disclosure reports are above board.
Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Late last year, St. Louis Public Radio and NPR launched an interactive data project that lets Missouri voters see just how much money their state representative has accepted from lobbyists. It's an easy-to-navigate visual that gives people a sense of the kinds of relationships that have developed under their Capitol dome. A similar one-stop-shop of lobbying disclosure info wouldn't be possible in Idaho.

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Washington Policy
3:50 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Washington Lawmakers Hear Pitch For Corporate Tax Disclosure

File photo of the Washington State Capitol Building
Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 4:46 pm

The issue of tax transparency in Washington is getting fresh attention on the heels of a major tax deal for Boeing.

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1:00 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Plaintiffs Say Idaho Is Stalling To Keep Juvenile Correction Department Records Secret

A group of Idaho Department of Juvenile Correction employees who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the state say the agency is violating a judge's order to meet and decide which documents should be made public.

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3:05 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Idaho Health Exchange Will Keep Taxpayer Funded Contract Review Secret

Board members of the Idaho health insurance exchange said Tuesday that they will keep secret the findings of a $15,000 taxpayer-funded investigation into how one of its own members won a lucrative no-bid contract.

Your Health Idaho board chairman Stephen Weeg said the two-week-long review by a private lawyer uncovered "lapses in judgment," though nothing illegal. Exchange executive director Amy Dowd last month awarded a technology contract worth up to $375,000 to board member Frank Chan, who quit the same day the contract was announced.

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Health Exchange
1:20 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Contract Canceled After Outcry

Idaho insurance exchange leaders trimmed the Internet marketplace director's power to sign lucrative deals with vendors after criticizing her move to award a former board member a no-bid contract worth up to $375,000.

Your Health Idaho executive director Amy Dowd now must get the board's permission for any transaction over $15,000.

Beyond this strict new limit, exchange board members voted Tuesday to sever ties with Frank Chan, the former board member who got the contract.

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Idaho News
10:49 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Judge Rules Against Media Groups In Hospital Case

A federal judge presiding over an antitrust lawsuit between two major health care providers in Idaho has declared that testimony and documents can remain hidden from public view.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled Tuesday after the Idaho Statesman and other news organizations challenged the broad shroud of secrecy approved for documents and trial testimony.

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Idaho News
9:21 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Idaho News Groups Ask For Openness In Hospital Lawsuit

Idaho news organizations are seeking to open court proceedings to the public by intervening in a lawsuit between two big health care providers.

On Wednesday, The Idaho Statesman in Boise, The Times-News in Twin Falls, The Associated Press, the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa and the Idaho Press Club asked U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill reverse a pretrial order closing the courtroom to some testimony.

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Idaho Media
7:22 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Judge Sides With Idaho Media In Prison Case Challenge

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge has sided with a coalition of 17 Idaho news organizations in denying a request by the state's only private prison contractor to seal whatever it wants in a lawsuit brought by a group of inmates at the prison. 

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge issued an order Tuesday that significantly scales back a broad protection order sought by the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise.

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Media Lawsuit
1:36 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Corrections Corporation Of America Asks Judge To Bar Idaho Media From Joining Lawsuit

Private prison company Corrections Corporation of America is asking a federal judge to deny a request from Idaho news organizations to keep documents open in a lawsuit over conditions at a CCA-run prison.

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Government Transparency
3:48 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Four Idaho Websites Get National Award For Government Transparency

Three Idaho school districts and a county have been honored for their websites. The non-profit government transparency organization Sunshine Review gave its annual Sunny Awards to the 247 government websites it deemed most transparent.  

The Boise, Blaine County and Caldwell School Districts made the list. Canyon was the only Idaho county to show up.

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Government Accountability
10:24 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Idaho Launches Government Transparency Website

Credit / State Controller's Office

In an effort to become more transparent, the state of Idaho has launched a new website that details state spending and revenue. was created by the state controller’s office, after the state continually received failing grades on its openness.

Last year during ‘sunshine week,’ StateImpact Idaho reported on two separate transparency report cards — one gave Idaho an "F", the other a “D-".

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StateImpact Idaho
11:36 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Clawbacks In Connecticut: What Idaho Could Learn From How One State Handles Breaks For Business

Transform Solar received $1.68 million in state training grants shortly before announcing it’s closing and laying off about 250 people.
Transform Solar

Every state, including Idaho, offers tax breaks, grants or subsidies to businesses in hopes of spurring economic development.

But the states vary widely in terms of what they do when a company doesn’t create as many jobs as it agreed to, or otherwise follow through with its end of the incentive bargain.

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StateImpact Idaho
8:00 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Companies Receive Idaho Training Grants, But Make No Long-Term Promises

Employees leave the XL Four Star Beef plant in Nampa in 2011 after the company announced plans to shut the plant down and layoff 522 people. XL Four Star received $564,231 in training fund grants.
Chris Butler Idaho Statesman

Last month, Transform Solar announced that it was closing and laying off about 250 people at its facility in Nampa. As StateImpact reported, the manufacturer of high-tech solar cells, had received $1.68 million in workforce training grants from the state of Idaho — money that the company will not have to pay back.

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StateImpact Idaho
9:53 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Update: Transform Solar Received $1.68 M In State Training Grants Before Announcing Layoffs

Transform Solar

Earlier this week, Micron-owned Transform Solar, a maker of high-tech solar cells, announced it’s closing and laying-off at least 250 people over the next three months.

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StateImpact Idaho
2:22 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

What Some States Do To Disclose Tax Incentive Info

Pew Center on the States

A recent report from Pew Center on the States lists Idaho among 26 states ‘trailing behind when it comes to evaluating tax incentives.  That is, having a mechanism in place to take a closer look at the state-specific incentives and exemptions on a regular basis, and to evaluate if they’re doing what they were intended to do.  In most cases, that’s spurring economic growth and

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StateImpact Idaho
7:30 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Q&A: Who Gets Idaho's Tax Breaks? Why Details Are In The Dark

401K Flickr

StateImpact Idaho has rolled out a series of stories this week on tax incentive transparency in Idaho.  That is, what is and isn’t public information when it comes to business tax credits and exemptions. 

Almost always, tax incentives are created in the name of economic development.  But in Idaho, little information is available about whether these incentives create jobs and grow companies. 

Scott Graf talks with StateImpact reporter Emilie Ritter Saunders about the lack of transparency surrounding Idaho's business tax incentives. 

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StateImpact Idaho
1:10 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Open Government Advocate: Tax Incentive Details Should Be Public Info

Greg LeRoy is the executive director of Good Jobs First. Good Jobs First

Good Jobs First is a non-partisan, non-profit government transparency advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.  It was founded in 1998 by Greg LeRoy, who is now executive director. LeRoy has been studying tax incentive transparency for more than two decades.  We recently spoke with him to learn more about what he considers ‘transparent enough,’ and what states are doing to open incentive information to the public. 

Q: What is transparent enough? What should people have the right to see?

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