Idaho Legislature

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Treasurer Crane
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho treasurer's office didn't make public for about three and a half months information about a Securities and Exchange Commission violation involving a state agency.

The Spokesman-Review reports in a story on Tuesday that the state Credit Rating Enhancement Committee's annual report in July detailed the SEC action involving self-reported violations by the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.

Tom Kelly/Flickr

A small group of Idaho lawmakers say the Republican-dominated Legislature must find a way to provide health care to the state's low-income uninsured population in 2017.

However, the legislative panel fell short from backing a specific proposal during its final meeting on Tuesday. Instead, lawmakers agreed on broad recommendations, such as urging a sunset provision if the Idaho Legislature does consider Medicaid expansion and promoting using general funds to help cover any new program costs.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Dome (2)
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's top legislative leaders have approved a new system for estimating the cost of proposed legislation on the state's general fund.

In Idaho, bill sponsors are solely responsible for determining the financial impact of their legislation. There is no consequence if the estimated cost of a bill is wrong. Furthermore, the Idaho Legislature does not track if legislation estimates are accurate, so it's unclear how many bills may have incorrectly stated their fiscal impact.

All of Idaho’s legislative seats were up for grabs in Tuesday's election. The Legislature already leans heavily Republican and after votes were counted, it became even more so.

A handful of Democratic seats turned Republican. In some of those, long-time Democratic incumbents lost their seats. Other, formerly Democratic seats that were open, turned GOP.

Idaho Republican Party / Facebook

Republicans are expected to dominate Tuesday's election, with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump predicted to easily win Idaho's four electoral votes and all three of the Republican congressional candidates likely to secure their bids for re-election.

That leaves the open seat on Idaho's Supreme Court as the state's most competitive race.

Twin Falls attorney Robyn Brody and Republican state Sen. Curt McKenzie are in a tight race over the little-known position.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Election Day is next week and all 35 seats in the Idaho Senate and all 70 seats in the Idaho House are on the ballot. That means opportunity for change in the body that makes state policy.

But how much variation will we actually see? And how competitive are this year's races? Those are questions Boise State University Political Science Professor Emeritus Gary Moncrief has been considering. Moncrief says many of the state's legislative races just aren’t that competitive this year.

Betsy Russell

When voters in Idaho go to the polls on November 8 they'll be asked to change the state's constitution. H.J.R. 5 comes from legislators, who want to take a power they already have and make it stronger, by enshrining it into the constitutional framework.

Idaho Statesman

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill has requested that legislative auditors investigate the travel expenses of two lawmakers facing allegations of having an extramarital affair.

Hill told The Associated Press Thursday that auditors will begin reviewing the past three years of travel vouchers of Republicans Rep. Christy Perry, of Nampa, and Sen. Jim Guthrie, of McCammon.

Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio/ StateImpact Idaho

Idaho only has a handful of competitive legislative races in the upcoming general election, but party officials on both sides are prepping for heated battles in key legislative districts across the state.

The state's Republican Party recently announced the launch of field offices in Lewiston, Moscow and Blaine County, some of the most strongly Democratic places in this super-majority Republican state. 

Idaho GOP executive director David Johnston says there are parts of Idaho his party will win without much effort. But others, he says, will be a fight.

YouTube screengrab / Protect Idaho Kids

A group that wants to repeal laws exempting parents from child abuse prosecution is hard at work this summer. Bruce Wingate is the founder of Protect Idaho Kids, and says parents who deny medical treatment to their children because of their religions should be held to the same standard as all parents.

The nonprofit has produced a series of videos making that case on local TV in Boise. Wingate hopes to get the spots on the air around the state in the next five months.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Proponents of laws that bar transgender people from using public bathrooms and dressing rooms that conform to their gender identity are already seizing on an incident in eastern Idaho this week. A transgender woman is accused of taking pictures of a woman changing clothes in a Target dressing room in Ammon.

Boise transgender activist Emilie Jackson-Edney says it’s wrong to judge all transgender people by one person’s actions. But she says that will probably happen anyway in this case.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idahoans can carry a concealed gun without needing licenses or training starting Friday.

The change is just one of the new laws going into effect with the start of the new fiscal year in Idaho. This means the state will implement a new budget and plenty of new policies.

Other new laws include banning powdered alcohol, but finally allowing movie theaters to serve booze during movies that show nudity.

Scott Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to strike down a Texas abortion restriction law could have ripple effects in Idaho, where pro-choice advocates are cheering. In a 5-3 ruling, the justices overturned a Texas law requiring surgical facilities in abortion clinics, while also requiring clinic doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's legislative leaders have assigned their summer homework by finalizing a list of hot button topics for Idaho lawmakers to review over the next few months.

Top legislative officials approved the interim committees on Friday. The panels will meet over the summer and provide recommendations to lawmakers during next year's legislative session.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A special citizen panel has approved increasing Idaho's basic legislative salaries over the next two years.

The Citizens Committee on Legislative Compensation agreed on Wednesday to bump state lawmaker pay by 2 percent each year until 2018. This means the annual pay for state lawmakers will jump from roughly $16,680 to around $17,350.

However, daily session expenses will remain the same. Lawmakers living within 50 miles of the Capitol will continue to receive $49 a day when the Idaho Legislature is in session, while those living farther away will stay at $129 a day.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Tuesday’s primary election in Idaho saw seven incumbent lawmakers lose their positions in the Legislature. It also whittled down the candidates vying for a seat on Idaho’s Supreme Court.

Many match-ups featured moderate Republicans against candidates from the far right wing of the party.

Reporter Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review writes the “Eye on Boise” blog and was among those watching the election closely.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Tuesday is primary day for a number of legislative races in Idaho. There are some important face-offs to watch – ones that could influence the direction of Idaho’s conservative majority. Some incumbent Republicans are being challenged by more conservative politicians, creating division among the GOP.

The one big statewide race is for the supreme court. Four candidates are vying for this position, which is nonpartisan.

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials originally agreed to pay $7.2 million in a settlement over an illegal statewide contract that provided broadband in public schools.

However, a March ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court halted settlement talks after justices upheld a lower court's ruling deeming the $60 million contract was illegal. The surprise ruling came down in the final days of the settlement being finalized.

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.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Idaho residents 21 and older will soon be able to carry concealed guns without permits or training under legislation approved by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The Idaho State Journal reports that Otter signed the bill on Friday, but not without expressing concerns about the new law lacking a training requirement for those who exercise the right to concealed carry.

In a letter to Idaho Senate president and Lt. Gov. Brad Little, he encouraged the Legislature to monitor the implementation of the law to determine if the lack of a training requirement undermines public safety.

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