Idaho Legislature

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.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Update 3:00 p.m.:

Idaho will remain among the 19 states resisting a key provision of Obamacare. The Idaho Legislature adjourned Friday without agreement on whether to explore an expansion of the Medicaid program.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho finished picking candidates for the Presidential election last week. Now politics watchers are turning their eyes to the state’s May 17 primary election.

The filing deadline for candidates for the Idaho Legislature came and went two weeks ago.

Gary Moncrief is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Boise State, and studies legislatures across the country. Moncrief is the co-author the book “Why States Matter.”

The share of Oregonians and Washingtonians without health insurance has dropped dramatically under Obamacare. The uninsured rate is now at a historic low in the West Coast states.

Idaho has missed out on that trend, largely because the state until now has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility on the federal dime. Idaho's Republican-controlled legislature was teetering Friday on whether to end its holdout.

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

State budget writers have signed off on a surprise $8 million request from top legislative leaders to pay for a possible settlement in Idaho's losing legal battle over an illegal statewide contract for broadband in public schools.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 19-1 on Tuesday to approve the request of House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill.

Earlier this month, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling voiding the $60 million statewide contract in a drawn-out legal process.

The Latest on the rape kit legislation that cleared the Idaho Legislature:

2:45 p.m.

An Idaho sheriff says the Legislature shouldn't have gotten involved in creating a statewide system for collecting and tracking rape kits because many rape accusations are false.

Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland made the comments to Idaho Falls TV station KIDK on Monday before lawmakers unanimously approved the new system and sent the measure to the governor.

Tabby Haskett / facebook.com/maniacphotography

The North Idaho town of Orofino has asked the Idaho legislature to create a specialty license plate for its high school. No other Idaho high school has its own license plate. The bill has passed the House despite some stiff opposition.

Orofino is home to a state mental hospital and many people see the local school mascot, the “Maniacs” as an offensive caricature. The image is a wild-haired, screaming cartoon character jumping in the air. It wears what, to many people, looks like a hospital gown.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Maureen Wishkoski is a morning person. Wishkoski is the court advocate manager at the Women’s and Children’s Alliance in Boise. Most days she gets up before 6:00 a.m. and heads to the Ada County Courthouse, where she meets with clients in need of legal help.

Some of her clients are looking for relief from stalking, a crime that she says can have serious mental and emotional impacts. According to the national Stalking Resource Center, 7.5 million people are stalked across the country every year. 

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Joint Finance Appropriations Committee
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

State budget writers have found a way to finance two crisis centers in southern Idaho to serve as a safety net to treat at-risk mentally ill people whose symptoms often land them in hospitals or jail.

The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee voted 16-2 on Wednesday to divert nearly $1.5 million to fund two crisis centers that will likely be located in Boise and Twin Falls.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The President Pro Tem of Idaho’s Senate, Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) Tuesday said his greatest disappointment for the current legislative session is that lawmakers have not brought forth a bill to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community that also ensures religious freedom. A week ago Hill told KBSX that negotiations had been going on behind the scenes and that there was still time in the session to present a bill.

Legislature Live screenshot

A packed meeting at the Idaho statehouse this afternoon focused on the hot topic of federal lands. The House and Senate resource committees convened to welcome speakers from Utah advocating that public lands be transferred from the federal government to Western states. The meeting did not include any public testimony.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A national suicide prevention organization and several Idaho groups with the same mission plan to spend Thursday trying to convince Idaho lawmakers to implement four recommendations. Those recommendations are the top priorities from a twelve-point suicide prevention plan created last year by the Idaho Health Quality Planning Commission.

The HQPC is a group of healthcare professionals, insurance industry reps and academics that advises Idaho lawmakers on ways to improve healthcare. It has identified suicide as one of the biggest public health threats facing Idaho. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

We’re more than a month and a half into the 2016 session of Idaho’s legislature. By this point in last year’s session, dozens of protesters had been arrested. They wanted lawmakers to pass a bill making it illegal to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The year before saw similar protests but this year they’ve been largely absent.

Nicole LaFavour, one of the leaders of the Add the Words movement says it’s because a group of senators has been meeting to craft a bill that could get bipartisan support.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho House has voted to ban cities from hiking the minimum wage. The bill prohibits local governments from instituting ordinances to raise the minimum wage. It also bans doing it through ballot initiatives.

Supporters of the bill, including Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, say it’s not about wages, it’s about keeping laws uniform across the state.

“When it comes to minimum wage, a patchwork approach is bad policy. Wages in Idaho can’t be resolved adequately by a heavy-handed approach that hurts business,” says Malek.

Jennifer Pack / Flickr Creative Commons

A Republican lawmaker from eastern Idaho is backing a bill that would require a woman be told where she can get a free ultrasound before undergoing an abortion.

Rep. Ron Nate of Rexburg says the legislation would require the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to compile a list of providers that offer free ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. The list would be part of the informed consent brochures abortion providers are required to distribute.

Jeff Youngstrom / Flickr

In the span of a week, lawmakers in the Idaho House voted to ban cities and counties from banning plastic grocery bags and took up a bill that could ban cities from increasing the minimum wage.

That’s after Hailey residents voted five years ago on a bag ban, and McCall residents voted last year on a higher minimum wage.

Supporters of both pieces of legislation say they're business friendly bills that would keep laws the same across the state.

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Two Idaho Democratic female lawmakers say the Idaho code isn't just for men.

Reps. Melissa Wintrow of Boise and Elaine Smith of Pocatello are backing legislation that would require gender neutral language in all of Idaho's copious laws. Wintrow says the bill is important to show young girls that they belong in all circles, particularly state government.

The two-paragraph bill says legislation should contain non-gendered phrases such as "he/she" or "his/her," rather than use the masculine pronoun by default.

Provided by Lex Shapiro

Last week, the Idaho House passed a bill that would prohibit cities from banning the use of plastic grocery bags. If it becomes law, the bill would prevent the formation of local movements — like one Lex Shapiro was a part of in Hailey five years ago — to make the bags illegal.

The 21-year-old college student grew up in the Wood River Valley, where she learned a deep appreciation for the outdoors. 

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